No one said life was easy. But then, life gets even harder when you're transported from the bright, endless lights of New York City to the barren, fecal-filled dust of Kabul, Afghanistan. In 2003, print journalist Kim Barker volunteered for a foreign correspondent posting in Kabul when most journalists were heading to Iraq. The two wars meant resources and bodies were stretched, so the inexperienced Barker was thrown into the deep end. A fews year in "the suck" left Kim with a warped sense of reality and too many stories to tell... except the only way she knew how - on paper. A successful book and a film option later, Kim Barker has become Kim Baker the TV reporter (film is a visual medium after all), portrayed by Tina Fey with Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’) at the helm.
Arriving in Kabul, Kim struggles with the wind, the language barriers, the severe discrepancies in the women to men ratio, the head scarves, and the gun fire. She soon meets fellow journo Tayna Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), her new BFF and healthy rival. Kim also has her local fixer Fahim (Christopher Abbott), “special friend” and randy politician Ali Sadiq (Alfred Molina), Marine insider General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton) and Scottish photojournalist/love interest Iain (Martin Freeman). Trapped in the "Kabubble", Kim struggles to understand the war and herself while making her mark on the world in a male-dominated environment whilst facing the pressures of staying media-relevant to the outside.
Tina Fey is now a bona fide movie star! While ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is classified as a comedy - perhaps it is, by Golden Globe standards anyway - war is no laughing matter, so while the film delivers a laugh or three, don’t be fooled by the reputation of its leading lady. While told with humour, ‘WTF’ is a look at a reality few will ever really know and less really want to know. Shot convincingly with New Mexico doubling for Kabul, directing dynamo duo Ficarra and Requa have once again stunningly combined the trials and tribulations of being human and the everyday horrors of this world, whether it be in NYC or Afghanistan.
While the film delivers a laugh or three, don’t be fooled by the reputation of its leading lady.
Many (myself included) have baulked at "the guy from ‘Girls’" and Dr Octopus playing Afghans - once again contributing to the debate of Hollywood’s ethnic casting. That gross lapse in judgment aside, it’s the convincing duality of this film that makes it so engrossing and wonderful. ‘WTF’ makes you laugh when Kim has awkward sexual encounters, fearful when she’s lost in the streets without a headscarf, sad when she witnesses death, and fascinated when she calls Kabul “home” while packing her bags for New York. Some may call that tonally uneven; I call it life, one of the many unique and wonderful things Ficarra and Requa do best.
This film hooks you in the greatest and most indescribable way. You laugh when it’s funny, jump when a bomb goes off, fall in love alongside our heroine, and move on with her when the time is right. Watch out, Hollywood - Ms Fey is in the house.