After having the idea and passion for a decade; Jessica Chastain finally gets her dream of portraying the infamous televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. If you’re unfamiliar with Tammy Faye; she was one of the most adored and stigmatized televangelists, singer, author, talk show host, and television personalities ever. After hosting a successful Christian puppet show series, Come on Over, and founding The 700 Club – which they left. She and her husband, Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield), started The PTL Club. They even opened the first Christian theme park, Heritage USA. And now, 12 years after the sordid collapse of their multi-million dollar Christian empire, The Eyes of Tammy Faye tells their rise and fall through Tammy’s perspective.
Jessica Chastain as Tammy is a masterclass in acting. Watch YouTube videos of the real-life iconic scenes in the film side by side and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Chastain truly embodies the spirit of Faye, cadence, and even iconic eyelashes. She is incredibly charming, warm, and loving. You can’t help but root for her as she takes on some of the most influential pastors of their time, including Jerry Falwell (Vincent D’Onofrio). Faye’s views on Christianity strayed deeply away from the fire and brimstone likes of Falwell and Pat Robertson (Gabriel Olds) by refusing to mix religion and politics, as well as her support of the LGBTQ+ community during the AIDS epidemic for starters.
Good Performances With The Fine Ones
Where Chastain shines Garfield fizzles. Don’t get me wrong, Andrew’s take on Jim Bakker is perfectly fine, but that’s just it. It’s fine. He has great chemistry with Chastain and is convincing as a smart, passionate pastor, but a deep dive into his character is lacking. However, this might not be his fault since the film portrays Jim how Tammy always saw him – dull.
While the story is enjoyable and inspires me to watch the documentary that shares its names, my biggest issue is with the makeup transformation. Tammy and Jim have much rounder faces than the actors who portray them and while practical makeup is used, all the added prosthetics turn them into chipmunks. It hinders the actors from being able to emote to the best of their ability and stunts the performances from time to time. I honestly don’t know the fix, but the end result was not it.
In the end, if you’re interested in watching an interesting film that’s an obvious Oscar grab, head to the theaters to check out The Eyes of Tammy Faye. If not, it’ll make a great VOD Sunday movie.
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