You tread dangerous waters when, in your movie, you include dialogue about how there are people out there who attempt to seek meaning in things that are devoid of it. The same is true when you remind us of Sturgeon’s Law (“90% of everything is crap”). The former makes us immediately consider if the movie is doing exactly that. In the case of Coda, it is. The latter isn’t true, but unless the movie is excelling in one way or another, it’ll make us think that the film itself falls into that 90%.
Coda is a movie about an aging pianist, Henry (Patrick Stewart), who has recently made a comeback to the … stage? Theater? Concert hall? He’s back after a hiatus is the point. He took personal time after a tragedy but has returned to loving fanfare. The problem? He’s got stage fright. Or some sort of mental blockade he is struggling with. The film opens with him playing a set, sweating profusely, and having to duck out earlier than anticipated and only reluctantly returning. He’s got a problem.
Enter Helen (Katie Holmes), a music writer who adores Henry. She wants to write an article about him. He doesn’t like the spotlight, but after discovering that her mere presence alleviates some of the issues he’s having, he agrees to keep her along for a while and write her article. The two connect and mutually enjoy each other’s company. She has no personality beyond “admiring Henry,” which is really what one wants from the second most prominent character in your movie.
That’s the whole thing, by the way. It wants to be this contemplative piece on aging and loss and grieving and moving on but it’s mostly just watching Patrick Stewart play the piano, struggle to play the piano, or look sad. About 1/3 of the film takes place in flashbacks, which you can tell because he has a slight beard and looks even sadder. Coda‘s dialogue is uninspiring except when it’s providing fuel to criticize the film, as mentioned above.
Stewart is good at looking mopey and pretending to play the piano, but Coda never even begins to take off. It lacks the characters to be a successful drama, the insight to be meaningful, and the quantity of music to be a constant delight of the ears. It’s a whole lot of nothing dressed up in classy attire under the pretense of being important. 90% of everything isn’t crap, but Coda isn’t too far off.
Conclusion: Coda wants to be profound but it’s uninspired and rather dull.
Recommendation: You can do better than this.
- Rating - 3/103/10