Ancient Metaphor

Ancient Metaphor VIII, Dick Jemison, 1984

It is cold this new year, very cold, like 13 ºF cold. Last month, last year the weather was unseasonably warm. So, this month’s cold snap hits you in the face like a slap across the face. Yesterday, we got a dusting of ice and snow. All of the RAV4’s doors and windows were jammed by ice. Saint Louis is notorious for its ice storms. I got the driver’s door open without much difficulty, fired up the engine and hit the defroster to clear the windshield. The wipers were locked in ice. I tried to get the scraper, but the rear door was ice locked and wouldn’t open. I ended up having to go back into the house and grab a spatula to free the wipers from their icy grip. Winter isn’t coming, it is already here.

Dave and Maren left town last week and are now back in Boston. Dan and Britt are still here but leave tomorrow. Tonight, the four of us will be going out to dinner, risking Omicron. Frankly, knock-on-wood I’m surprised that no one has gotten sick this holiday season. Either we have all been lucky or being triple vaxxed really does make a difference. With their departure, we’ll begin putting the holidays behind us and get on with the new year.

This time of year, critics produce their annual best of lists. Several best movie lists of 2021 had CODA (Apple TV) among their picks. CODA is an acronym that stands for children of deaf adults. Set in Gloucester, Massachusetts, this coming-of-age drama centers on Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), a high school student and the only hearing member of her family. In addition to her parents, her older brother is also deaf. They are all fisherman by trade, working alone together, every day out on the water, just trying to get by. The family members communicate with each other using sign language, but being the only hearing member of her family, places the burden of translator with the rest of the world on Ruby. Ruby likes to sing. Out on the boat she sings only for herself, and Ms. Jones has a great set of pipes. On a lark, Ruby signs up for the school choir. Her parents think that this is a silly idea, all the while being supportive of her brother’s Tinder habit, “because it is something that we can all do as a family.”

The movie is rather formulaic, but because it is so beautifully performed that is easily overlooked. It is also a remake of an original French film (La Famille Bélier) and was brought to America by some of that show’s French crew. One important difference between the two movies is that in CODA the deaf characters are performed by deaf actors. Most famously by Marlee Matlin as the mother. This casting choice gives the movie an authenticity that allows it to rise above its melodramatic plot. The climax comes when Ruby must make a choice, stay and support her family’s struggling fishing business or strikeout, live her own life and audition to the Berklee music school.

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