Let me tell you a little story.
I had two fillings today at the dentist and here’s how the conversation with the dental hygienist, I’ll call her Lois, went down before I got settled in the dentist’s chair, had needles jammed into my cheek and threw on a pair of Blue Blocker sunglasses just to make the experience even better.
Lois: So do you guys have any trips planned this summer? (Interesting question seeing as I did in fact walk into the office alone.)
Me: No, no plans.
Lois: Do you have kids?
Lois: Are you married?
Lois: Do you have any pets?
Me: Yes, I have a cat.
Lois: (In the most condescending tone possible to I guess reassure me that having a cat compensates for being single without kids, which I was by no means complaining about): Well, there you go.
At that point I said screw it, I am going to quit my job typing away in a cubicle and be a field reporter in Afghanistan (as long as I can make it home on the weekends to work at the movie theater and have these sunglasses.)
Okay, that second part didn’t happen, but it is what journalist Kim Barker did when she was seeking a new adventure in life, inspiring her memoir, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan and then a movie based on it, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
Tina Fey, who stars in the film as journalist Kim Baker, had a hand in getting it made after reading the book and the screenplay is written by Robert Carlock (of 30 Rock fame).
At first I thought Baker’s (I wonder why they changed the name ever so slightly) character wasn’t developed enough before she embarked on her journey to Afghanistan, but the rest of the film makes up for that by slowly displaying who she is as she figures out her true mission while covering the war.
Baker’s decision to become an embedded journalist was impulsive, and she continues on that path with choices in some of her coverage — putting herself and others in danger — but soon realizes it’s as much about the next great story as it is about shedding light on why what news there was in Afghanistan during that time (2003-2006) wasn’t being covered.
Fey is joined in the cast by Margot Robbie as a competing journalist/friend Tonya Vanderpoel, Martin Freeman as photographer/love interest Iain MacKelpie and Christopher Abbott as Fahim, Kim’s guide throughout most of her journalistic adventures.
Fey delivers the standout performance, especially after more of her character’s true persona was established, and presents the right balance between humor (obviously a strong suit for the actress) some suspense, and drama.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot works because it is based on a true story and character, although it’s interesting Barker and Fey didn’t consult much on how she was portrayed in the film, giving Fey some more creative power there, according to an interview with Barker in Vanity Fair.
I’m just waiting for the magazine to call me now for an exclusive piece on what happened during the rest of my dentist appointment. I’m sure Tina Fey is already interested in playing me in the movie version.
I’ll give her creative liberties with my character, too, as long as she wears the Blue Blockers.
Tonight from Emily V. Gordon: “You have a choice in what your creative effort actually is–it is your choice to define it. Some people think we’re supposed to have a hobby, a true passion in life, that should ideally be our career as well. This may or may not be true. There can be creative expression in any job, no matter how menial; there can be satisfaction in any job.”