Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Review: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

The Eyes of Tammy Faye paints a portrait of the human person with strengths and weaknesses in Tammy Faye Bakker. With the help of some prosthetics and padding, star Jessica Chastain proved once again that she is capable of convincing an audience of anything.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye begins with in little Tammy Faye’s childhood, where she was rejected by her mother Rachel Grover (Cherry Jones). Even as a child, Tammy Faye felt the presence of God in her life.

She met Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield) in college and immediately connected with his message that God loves everyone and wants abundance for everyone. That was the message they took to the people once their television empire got going.

Jim Bakker was a grifter at heart. He was always in debt and always finding someone to bail him out in the service of God. He was a closeted homosexual, although he denied it vigorously.

Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

It didn’t take long for their marriage to show cracks. They survived on faith rather than love. It took a long time for Tammy Faye to admit she needed love. When she did, it further fractured her marriage.

Televangelists and televised religion were never my thing. But it was impossible not to know who the Bakkers were. They were in the news often. I confess I regarded Tammy Faye as a clown with her excessive makeup and ridiculous eyelashes. But Jessica Chastain convinced me that she was a woman who loved deeply with a love that was often at odds with her church. She loved AIDS victims, she loved homosexuals, she taught love and understanding. She loved to sing, and she sang in praise of God. Jessica Chastain sang Tammy Faye’s songs in the film.

There’s an interview with Jessica Chastain from The Late Show where she explains how daring Tammy Faye was to embrace AIDS patients and talks about the prosthetics that helped her look so much like Tammy Faye.

Tammy Faye was vain, loved the spotlight, and was willing to spend the money donated to their ministry on furs and other finery. She got hooked on pills. When Jim Bakker was sent to prison for fraud, she was left to pick up the pieces of her life and find redemption for herself.

I thought this was an interesting movie. The performances from Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield were outstanding. But I didn’t think the film overall was outstanding. I paid to rent it from Prime Video, but it’s not the kind of film you need to see right now. My suggestion is to wait until it becomes available with your subscription and then watch it.

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