What to Watch This Weekend: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

The Eyes of Tammy Faye with Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain as “Tammy Faye Bakker” in the film THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is the story of Jim (Andrew Garfield) and Tammy Bakker (Jessica Chastain). Based on true events, the film focuses on the couples’ rise to power in the world of televangelism. Starting from humble beginnings the Bakkers had a whirlwind jump-start beginning with an impromptu wedding based a mutual interpretation of faith. Next, they hit the road as traveling acting that included puppets preaching the good word. Soon enough, the Bakkers soon found themselves developing television shows being watched all around the globe as they shared their message of faith and love. But with prominence came consequence as the two struggled to keep their marriage strong.

What works in The Eyes of Tammy Faye are the incredibly engaging performances by Chastain and Garfield full of depth and complexity. The Bakkers were undeniably charismatic and earnest. Both leads do exceptional work in bringing their characters to life as individuals who had ambition and love, but were also flawed in relatable ways. In that regard, the film feels both honest and respectful, which can often be a tough line to walk when recreating famous events. Director Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer) shows restraint by not over dramatizing the events, but rather spends his time exploring who these people were and their motivations. The result is fascinating insight.

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The story of the Bakkers is one laced in avarice that took advantage of people through misguided intentions. Some people might experience a wide range of negative emotions at these actions and activities, and thus might not enjoy The Eyes of Tammy Faye as much as others. Note that while the film delves into some sensitive (and potentially controversial topics), it never mocks or judges. That said, most films that focus on religious and/or political structures (and this movie has both) has the potential to make some groups feels as though they are being portrayed unfairly.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye captures a part of history that has been covered previously, but Showalter finds a graceful way to offer new, robust perspective. Chastain in particular delivers so much as Tammy, especially her kindness and philosophy that all should be loved; none should be marginalized. And while the story may be familiar to audience members who lived through the ordeal, there’s likely elements previously unknown that will be revelatory.

Recommended if you Enjoyed: Leap of Faith, Being the Ricardos, The Founder, Jackie, The Iron Lady

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