The new film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot puts Tina Fey in a place she's never been before: Afghanistan. In the movie, Fey portrays journalist Kim Barker, who is sent to the war-torn country in the early period of the War on Terror as a war correspondent for her employer. While there, she encounters extreme culture shock, frightening firefights, and above all, tons of crazy WTF (hence the film's title) moments. But did it really happen? Is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot a true story?
As crazy as it looks, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is indeed inspired by actual events. The film is based on the book by Kim Barker, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Barker was a writer for the Chicago Tribune when she was sent to Kabul, Afghanistan as a war correspondent in 2003. She went on to become the South Asia Bureau Chief for the paper from 2004 to 2009, staying in the region during that time, and then wrote her memoir in 2011 after returning to the states and quitting her job. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, like any movie based on a true story, takes a few liberties with the facts, but judging from the trailer, the film gets a lot of details right.
Barker did indeed have close relationship with other foreign correspondents stationed in the area, who are represented in the film by Margot Robbie, her friend, and Martin Freeman, her love interest. It's the latter relationship that was likely inspired by events in the book that Amazon's review described as "an often promiscuous subculture" among Barker and her fellow reporters, that sometimes resulted in "occasional heavy petting."
Also showing up in the trailer is Alfred Molina, who appears to be playing, or at least playing a character based on, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In her book, Barker describes the politician's outrageous attempts to woo her, and his obsession with Fey's character is evident in the trailer, as he implies that he wants to seduce her and ends up shooting machine guns with her. Barker was also, unfortunately but not surprisingly, routinely groped by men in the street, something that Fey can be seen dealing with in the film as well.
But perhaps the most accurate thing the movie did was cast comedy genius Fey in the lead role. Barker is funny , with a sharp wit and a quick tongue, and her memoir reads more like a black comedy than a war documentary. So go read The Taliban Shuffle, and then watch Tina Fey in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot on March 4 and compare the two for yourself.
Images: Paramount Pictures; whiskeytangofoxtrot/Tumblr