The movie, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, that is…
Just watched this on Amazon Prime. Having Tina Fey in it, I’d have not bought a ticket to see it, figuring that being from SNL she’d have a biased left POV. Now I must confess, it’s not that way at all. That bias was 100% wrong.
This is a docudrama based “on a true story” about Kim Baker…that turns out to be Kim Barker:
With a wink, Kim Barker, author of the memoir “The Taliban Shuffle” — inspiration for the new Tina Fey film “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” — says of the film: “I had nothing to do with it.” This signals Barker’s capacity for delivering a one-liner which states a fact while also raising a smile. As her memoir consistently exhibits, she can be dryly funny while also as seriously probing and truthful as her subject, the war in Afghanistan, warrants.
Based on her five years as a war reporter in Afghanistan and Pakistan (2004-2009), her memoir is written, as she recounted in an interview in Boston on a recent visit, in a way that would draw in readers with its light touch but teach them something significant along the way.
Michiko Kakutani wrote that Barker depicted herself “as a kind of Tina Fey character” in her 2011 review of the book in The New York Times. Fey got wind of the review and a couple of weeks after it appeared, according to Barker, Fey had plans well underway with Paramount Pictures and producer Lorne Michaels to do a film based upon it.
After seeing funny trailers, but before actually seeing the film, Barker wondered whether screenwriter Robert Carlock and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, all well known for their accomplishments with film and television humor, were going to carry that tone through the entire film. In the end she thinks “they managed a balance between the humor, the sadness and the dark parts really well,” and Barker was very happy with the result.
In fact, I found the film very compelling. Not at all related to the half dozen beers consumed during the watching; that was just “being in the moment” and “matching the ambiance”, OK?
I have no idea if it is right, or wrong, or what the experience there was. I do know it comes off as authentic. I now feel like I’ve “been there, done that”; at least as a correspondent. As it was from a correspondent POV, then it succeeded. I’m highly likely to watch it again.
Realize that is “High Praise Indeed!” from me. Usually if I’ve watched something once “I’ve got it” and a repeat does little for me. In this case, I think there are things to give more depth and savor a bit..
Not at all a “Political Message Movie”, it is more an exploration of what drives a woman, bored with her life writing “copy” for others, to run off to a war zone and “be among them”.
I found myself “falling for” Kim Baker, Kim Barker, Tammy Fey, whoever that brave woman was….
She “wants a change” and stays faithful to her “boy friend” until that turns out to not be such a great idea. She is a “Nooby” embedded with Marines, who sort of tolerate her, until she shows she’s more than deserving of respect.
Along the way, it illustrates the conflict between a Hyper Conservative Islam and those there to provide space for it to exist in peace; along with showing how the stresses of doing that lead to an “outside the envelope” culture among those at the far edges of Western Society and how they invent a free swinging release.
Is it “real”? Does it show what it is actually like? I have no idea. It does give a sense of it all, though. Probably distorted as all single person views are distorted.
Yet I loved it. I loved the Tina Fey portrayal of the character. I loved Kim Barker by proxy.
No big political message shoved down your throat. Just “This is what life is like Over There” and a good dose of WTF? quasi-reality.
Well worth watching, probably twice for me.