Cold Copy REVIEW – Absolutely Cold-Hearted

Cold Copy isn't exactly the hard-hitting journalism film we've been waiting for.

Cold Copy
Cold Copy

With the internet, there’s now a proliferation of voices online. Have something to say? A simple post online can gain traction if enough people care about what you’re putting out there. But when you’re a nobody, you need someone with power to see that you have what it takes to tell a story, and then give you that opportunity.

That’s our protagonist Mia Scott (Bel Powley). She idolises Diane Heger (Tracee Ellis Ross) and is ready to do whatever it takes to be just like her, but she needs to get into her class first. Diane doesn’t like journalism students who don’t know their own mind, and even though she perceives Mia doesn’t have what it takes, she takes a chance on a kernel of potential she sees during the interview. Now, all Mia has to do is find a story that will make Diane sit up and pay attention.

Could the story be about Igor Novak (Jacob Tremblay), a 16 year old young man who is the son of the now deceased popular children’s book writer Charlotte Novak? There’s still an unsolved mystery surrounding his mom’s death, and if Mia plays her cards right, maybe she could be the one to tell the story.

There’s a thin line that separates a story worth telling versus something that feels more like tabloid fodder. Exploiting Igor’s pain feels distinctly like the latter, as Mia endeavours to get close to him so that she can get more information about his mother.

The problem with Cold Copy is that most of these characters feel like shells meant to fit character tropes. Mia is the struggling ingenue who has no issues crossing moral lines, and Diane is the hard-ass mentor who isn’t afraid to muddle the facts in order to get a story. The only authentic character in this movie is Igor, and he’s as relatable as he is because of Tremblay’s performance. He makes Igor’s pain and loneliness so palpable that it helps us understand why he would fall prey to the clutches of someone like Mia. In just being who he is, Igor is the most interesting part of this entire movie, and it’s especially poignant that people like Diane cannot see that.

We’re drawn to the dark and salacious, and that’s what Diane believes will sell. She doesn’t peddle in the light, inspiring stories that also have value. Because Mia and Diane are so reprehensible and irredeemable, there’s no nuance to the storytelling. Cold Copy clearly telegraphs that Diane’s way isn’t right, instead of giving her character some balance so we would feel more ambivalent by the end. We’ve seen this type of character before – Diane is supposed to be like Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly, someone who poured everything into her work until there was nothing left in her marriage, and is willing to screw others over in order to get advantages for herself. Except that Miranda was a fully fleshed out character, who we could perceive as human beneath that glossy, tough-as-nails exterior.

But the most detestable of all is Mia, who never at any point shows us something decent about herself. So we’re left with people we don’t really care about by the end of the movie, wondering if it might have been better to rewatch Nightcrawler instead.

Review screener provided.

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Cold Copy
Cold Copy might be a bit one-note in terms of screenplay and characterisation, but at least Jacob Tremblay's performance is very good.