Overall, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a pretty good film. It does cater to biopic tropes, but Jessica Chastain’s performance is a revelation. Andrew Garfield’s acting chops are strong as well. Plus, the costume and makeup designs are phenomenal. It’s worth your time.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye's substance might come off a bit surface level, but it's Chastain’s incredible performance that excels the film. So, our movie takes an intimate look at the rise and fall of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. A good portion of the movie is set during the time of the 1970s and '80s. We follow this religious power couple, as they climb to the top through fraud and false hope. The Bakker's created the world's largest religious broadcasting network (The PTL Club) and even a 'Christian' theme park. The Bakker's prevailed on a message of love and prosperity, except it was all a sham. Like all televangelists, the Bakker's profited on the vulnerable, racking in huge swarms of money. "Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless."
Now, director Michael Showalter (Hello, My Name Is Doris and The Big Sick) also gives Tammy Faye's character a bit of a redemptive arc. In Showalter's picture, Tammy Faye was oblivious to her husband's dubious schemes. If that was reality, I am not sure. But Chastain's compelling performance makes it so believable. The film also briefly touches on Jim Bakker's extra-marital affairs, sexual misconduct and rape allegations. Although, it keeps these discoveries pretty surface level and instead focuses heavily on his financial schemes. I took this as a possibility of looking through Tammy Faye's point of view and how she probably didn't know every detail of what her sinister husband was up to. Maybe? Tammy Faye was also known for her heavy makeup, wild eyelashes, eccentric singing, and enthusiasm to embrace people from all walks of life.
Tammy Faye's acceptance towards others transcended during the AIDS crisis. During that time, Faye began to reach out to the LGBTQ+ community. The movie also introduces us to other slimy televangelists like Jerry Falwell (played by Vincent D'Onofrio) and Pat Robertson (played by Gabriel Olds). As the story progresses later in the years, slowly Chastain transforms more and more into her role. She hits a point where she looks and sounds exactly like the real Tammy Faye. She's indistinguishable, in a good way. This is the power of great acting. Overall, through all of the story's faults, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is still a fun movie to watch. I was entertained the whole time. Chastain gives us one of her best performances, one that is also Oscar-worthy. I hope she stays in the conversation this awards season. In the end, through the glitter, glamour, fraud, and a bit of Jesus, this is Tammy Faye's story.
Want to hear more of my thoughts about Tammy Faye? I spoke with my good friends, Matt and Ashley, on their podcast, Mashely at the Movies | Listen Here.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye had its world premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 12, 2021 and is currently playing in theaters.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Sexual Content and Drug Abuse.
Directed by Michael Showalter
Starring Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Fredric Lehne, Louis Cancelmi, Gabriel Olds, and Vincent D'Onofrio.
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