Now Showing: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Lilly Ball, Editor in Chief

For the past 15 years, the war in Afghanistan has had an ever disappearing presence in the American media. This lack of screen time, however, has been masking horrific events that have ruined the lives of citizens, soldiers, and international journalists. In her most profound role yet, Tina Fey stars in the film “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” as real-life foreign journalist Kim Barker, delivering a performance as poignant as it is humorous. But, with its dark comic  aside, the film still manages to deliver one, singular, emotionally devastating message: there is no way to make light of suffering.

The film begins with the rather banal issues of Kim, who is unsatisfied with her desk job, writing scripts for reporters who are actually awarded screen time. In search of her big break, Kim agrees to travel to Afghanistan for a period of three months, to investigate the effectiveness of the American War on Terror. Though once she arrives, she realizes that the assignment is not the exotic adventure she had dreamed of.

Forced to live in a complex populated by other journalists on similar missions, Kim quickly assimilates into their harsh cycle of partying, misconduct and investigative reporting. It is here that she meets Australian correspondent Tanya Vanderpeol, played by the gorgeous Margo Robbie, and photographer Ian MacKelpie (Martin Freeman,) who have both become extremely wanton in their attempts to deal with the harshness of their environment.

Kim grows to love the excitement that comes along with her job, and ends up staying in Afghanistan for many years. Besides the chaos that occurs all around her, Kim’s network refuses to feature many of her pieces, as “war is no longer exciting.” With no way of showing the American public the destruction of the Afghan culture, Kim and the other journalists become frustrated, as they are the only ones who know what pandemonium is being created.

I am not surprised that the film, directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and based on a book by Barker, was marketed as a comedy, as it is the only genre the filmmakers have contributed to (they penned “Bad Santa”). But, similar to Fey, the duo utilized “Foxtrot” as a way to break out of their molds. While humor has a heavy presence in the film, it is used as a coping mechanism by those who have deteriorated along with Afghanistan.

The funniness makes the film more palatable, (warning, much of this humor derives from foul language, ) as the ruin of cities and of lives forced me to become aware of a war that I scarcely known about. Having grown up during the time that these events took place, I was embarrassed to realize that I was so oblivious to them, proving that, as in the film, the media had downplayed them. In their attempts to gain more viewers, stations have ignored heavily political stories, passed up for those with bigger explosions, and better footage.

In a film daring to display so many conflicting emotions, there is a heavy burden placed upon its cast to support the script. Though originally awkward and offbeat as she is in most of her work, Fey matured throughout the course of the film. As if she were a skilled dramatic actress, Fey reduced me to tears while she navigated through the snarl of emotions that accompany war and betrayal.

While it has all aspects that most modern war films boast (violence, comedy, and romance), “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” accomplishes the unimaginable, as it finds a balance between wit and sorrow. With this film under their belts, Fey, Ficarra, and Requa are now free, liberated from the comedic chains that had prevented them from producing any serious work.