THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D’Onofrio, Cherry Jones, Mark Wystrach, Sam Jaeger, and Louis Cancelmi
Director: Michael Showalter
The Eyes of Tammy Faye was a very welcome surprise for me. Having not known too much about Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, it provides not just a fascinating look at the rise and fall of their empire, but a humanizing portrayal of Tammy herself. Jessica Chastain has never been better, as she gives an unrecognizable and extremely emotional performance through some truly remarkable makeup and prosthetics. The story is told in an appropriately entertaining way that's both funny and moving, teetering the line of satire, and it's a fascinating film that I truly recommend.
While not one of Michael Showalter's more balanced efforts, The Eyes of Tammy Faye remains yet another show of unspoken skill for the director. Apart from Jessica Chastain’s remarkable performance in the titular role, the quiet strength of the film is that it never becomes outright cynical despite remaining factual to the nature of its subject. The film invites one to know who Tammy Bakker was, regardless of how involved she may have been in the Bakkers' crimes. It's a bit long and feels slightly unfocused, but the heart is there, which Chastain carries to the end.
While I can appreciate the effort that went into making The Eyes of Tammy Faye, especially Jessica Chastain’s transformative and award-worthy performance, I had a really tough time connecting with this movie. Maybe I have preconceived (and incorrect?) notions about who the Bakkers (Andrew Garfield and Chastain) were that are impossible to overcome, but this movie wants the viewer to feel undeserved sympathy for these religious fraudsters. Frankly, that’s a hard sell for me. It’s not easy to get invested in a movie when you don’t believe its message.