The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)
Directed by: Michael Showalter Runtime: 2h 6m Rated: PG-13
Studio: Searchlight Pictures Screenwriter: Abe Sylvia
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D’Onofrio
Throughout the 1970s and 80s in America, Jim Bakker (Garfield) and his wife, Tammy Faye (Chastain), were the Kardashians of Christian televangelism. Starting as humble and timid in their pursuits to bringing the love of god to everyone via a traveling church show, later making their way on to TV became so much more. In the end, Jim Bakker was trying to create a Christian theme park to give you an idea of his ambitions. After creating a tv network that reached over 20 million views worldwide at the time of his arrest.
After escaping the brainwashing of a religious upbringing, as an adult, I stay clear of the subject, by and large. As a child of the 80s, I don’t need a trip down memory lane, except maybe I did.
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were huge with adults for decades, a perspective I couldn’t understand as a child. Still, why should I watch a film on a topic I dislike? Jessica Chastain. She brings to life the layers, demons, and superficial complexities of the self-professed, big-hearted clueless wife. Her performance, depiction, and commitment to the role of Tammy Faye are nothing short of Oscar-worthy.
Chastain and Garfield are energetic and believable together as this ever-changing couple, with clear character arcs. The script is all right, as it’s easy to construct one when based on two highly public figures/events. When a film must cover many time periods, the plot’s pace can get bogged down, but Showalter does reasonably well considering. An audience can easily see the conflict to resolution and the origins of these people/characters, which is needed in a bio-drama. Nothing feels missing as this story notes the rise and subsequent public fall of the Bakker’s.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a visual display of big hair, lavish outfits, materialism, and makeup. All while dripping with the love of god, asking people to open their wallets. Again and again and again. I adore Andrew Garfield as an actor. But if not for Jessica Chastain, I’m not sure another actress could have pulled me in to endure the recreation of the Bakker’s Christian televangelist propaganda.
If, somehow, you’re not a fan of Andrew Garfield or Jessica Chastain, take a pass on this embarrassing reminder of American behavior. Otherwise, I’m on the fence on whether or not to recommend it for your watchlist. It comes down to your tolerance of the 80s or religion. I saw it; Chastain is amazing, yes. But I’ll never watch The Eyes of Tammy Faye again.
-A Pen Lady