Cold Copy (2024) Movie Review – An occasionally gripping tale about the evils of journalism

An occasionally gripping tale about the evils of journalism

Never trust a journalist!

That’s hardly breaking news, of course. Most of us know the unscrupulous methods some journalists use to get a news story. In some cases, the truth will be manipulated by them to create a piece that is juicy, scandalous, and possibly even false. Many people have been victims of such callous reporting and their lives have been irrevocably damaged as a consequence. 

Cold Copy, the feature-length directorial debut of Roxine Helberg, tells the fictional story of one journalism student who is prepared to do anything it takes to get a news story, even if that means stretching the truth and screwing over the people closest to her. 

Bel Powley (The King of Staten Island) is the student in question, a young woman named Mia Scott who is desperate to impress Diane Heger (Tracee Ellis Ross), a big-time investigative reporter who is also her journalism professor. Diane tasks Mia and the rest of her class with creating a story that is good enough to appear on a news programme called The Night Report. Only one person will achieve this much-coveted prize so the pressure is on for Mia and her fellow journalism students. 

Mia finds her story when she meets a young man named Igor Nowak (Jacob Tremblay) who rescues her from a date gone wrong. Igor is a sweet-natured chap with a tragic backstory – a story that Mia decides to use for her own ends, even if that means manipulating Igor and going against the trust that he has put in her.

Igor isn’t the only person Mia uses in her attempts to climb the career ladder. To secure a place on Diane’s in-demand journalism course, she also steps over two of her friends to ensure that it is she and not they who are given Diane’s approval. 

Mia isn’t particularly likeable but as we alluded to, she’s not the first person to behave unethically in her profession. As such, it’s not impossible to empathise with her, though there’s still a degree of satisfaction when she comes close to getting her comeuppance. Diane, her idol, is even more unscrupulous, which is something Mia discovers when her mentor seemingly uses her for her own gain. The film takes a twisted turn at this point when the balance of power is shifted between the two women. 

We don’t learn anything new from the film’s story but it’s still well told, with its unwavering glimpse into the lives of those who will do anything it takes to get to the top. Thankfully, each character is given enough depth to ensure they aren’t two-dimensional caricatures of their real-life counterparts, i.e. hard-nosed journalists and their victims. So, while some of the characters are hard to like, they’re not completely unrelatable or difficult to understand.

All the cast deliver excellent performances, most notably Ross as the cold and intimidating news bigwig and Tremblay as the vulnerable Igor who Mia selfishly uses to get her big break in journalism. He’s the mouse to Mia’s cat, who is herself being manipulated by Diane, an even bigger cat who doesn’t think twice about using her students to improve her own standing. These characters take centre stage for the most part, although there’s still room for a few interesting side players, including another journalism student named Kim (Nesta Cooper) who falls prey to Mia’s calculating schemes. 

Cold Copy isn’t a good advertisement for news reporting. While big money can be made in the profession, those who do climb the ladder in this field are at risk of a fall as a consequence of their actions. This is something that is demonstrated in the film, with plot points that might give some up-and-coming journalists cause for concern. 

Originality isn’t something you’ll find in Cold Copy (or most of the news stories you’ll find on the internet) but it’s still a decent watch for most of its runtime. The plotting is predictable and sometimes a little muddled but with strong performances from the cast and the occasional directorial flourish from Helberg, we’re not stretching the truth when we say this is a film we can recommend. 


Read More: Cold Copy – Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

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