News of the World is, at its core, a story of two people who have both lost their family. Johanna is, as Kidd eventually learns, an orphan two times over, having lost her birth parents when she was too young to really remember them and then losing her adoptive parents at the hands of people who thought they were saving her. Kidd, for his part, is also without a family, traveling around and making plenty of friends across Texas even as he refuses to go home to reckon with the loss of his wife.
Both of them are on a journey of reconciliation, one that truly picks up steam when Johanna makes a choice. Faced with the prospect of rejoining a group of Kiowa who just happen to be traveling nearby, something she tried to do earlier in the film, she instead asks them for a horse, brings it back to Kidd, and keeps traveling with him. It takes a little longer for Kidd to catch up to her emotional wavelength, but the message is clear. This is the moment when she decides that he is her family, and because he ultimately makes the same choice, they can both find their taste for familial love again. The entire movie hinges on that choice, that singular moment, when she asks to stay rather than to go, and it’s a beautiful bit of mirroring against the scene when the same scared girl once shouted from a riverbank to be taken away.