HOLLYWOOD—I saw a terrific movie this weekend which I would chronicle as a biopic about the life of Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield and a host of others who contribute to this tale of religion, greed, money and deception. Now, I have never been a fan of movies where actors or actresses become stunning duplicates of real life characters or icons because I feel it’s just makeup. However, Chastain is brilliant in this role.
She doesn’t just look like Tammy Faye, she has the mannerisms, her cadence is top tier and scary as hell and it’s a tour-de force performance that you cannot take your eyes away from the screen. Garfield is solid as Tammy’s husband who is a bit controlling, but at the same time he didn’t shine as bright as Chastain in my opinion. I’ve seen better work from the actor; his portrayal of Jim felt more like a caricature instead of a full embodiment of Jim Bakker.
Chastain gives you highs of this woman who is touched by God, and her desire to want to help everyone, and at the same time the lowest of lows while navigating a crumbling marriage, a husband who is keeping secrets, a mother who questions if what her daughter, husband and Praise The Lord (PTL) network is involved in shady dealings when it comes to taking donations from viewers and the public. You know what “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” shined in the public sphere? That religious people are just as cutthroat and vicious as everyone else. I mean Jerry Falwell (Vincent D’Onofrio), who goes behind the scenes to get his hands on the cookie jar that was being controlled by Jim and Tammy and exposing them to the authorities and so many others to have a piece of power when it came to their empire.
Jerry bribed people and made arrangements to spill the tea on what Jim and Tammy were doing behind the scenes so he could gain control of things. Yeah, brutal to watch and it just left me stunned. This movie totally opens your eyes to the world of religion and those who tout themselves as being perfect and not making mistakes, but guess what they not only make mistakes, but purposely do evil and greedy things to get what they want, even committing criminal acts. The world of religion is competitive and “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” shines that light bright as hell, but in the most scary way.
We see Tammy Faye at her high when she gets pregnant with her first child, and then at her absolute low while pregnant with her second child. I mean she had an affair and lusted after a songwriter who showed her a bit of attention that her husband neglected to do. Jim had his secrets as well, affairs and even a homosexual relationship people. He publicly shunned his wife on national TV. It was brutal to watch, but at the same time eye-opening as a viewer as well people. I couldn’t believe what I was watching.
Faye turns to pills to soothe the pain, and watching Chastain in that hospital scene as Jim scolds her just after she gave birth to her second child was punishing. As well as that scene where she passes out on live TV after overdosing on pills, Chastain displays such a level of range with this character, if she does not earn an Oscar nomination it will indeed be the biggest snub of the year in my opinion. I thought Chastain was fantastic in “Zero Dark Thirty” and should have won the Oscar over Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress nearly a decade ago people.
She is not just portraying a real-life character; she fully embodies the character that just blows your mind away as a viewer. The narrative isn’t as engaging at times as you want, but Chastain’s performance alone shines so big it is hard to turn away from the screen which is something I appreciated greatly. If you are a fan of Tammy Faye and even if you’re not, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is a movie that opens your eyes to the world of religion, but also shows a talented actress do what she does best and its stellar to watch.