The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

eyes of tammy faye poster 2021 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice reexamination of Tammy Faye, Jessica Chastain

So-so presentation of the story

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Studio:  Fox Searchlight Pictures/Freckle Films/MWM Studios

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s):  September 12, 2021 (Toronto International Film Festival)/September 17, 2021 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

eyes tammy faye jim bakker andrew garfield jessica chastain

This is going to be a long happy marriage…right?

Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) found a love in God at an early age and when she met Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield), she felt that it was a match that could change the world.  With Bakker’s excitement and push, and Tammy Faye’s in exhaustible belief, the two skyrocketed to fame…but fame has its drawbacks and being number one means extra challenges and enemies.  With questions about their use of money, promises to their followers, and challenges from within the religious elite like Jerry Falwell (Vincent D’Onofrio), Tammy Faye is going to see it all change…and the fall is not gentle.

Directed by Michael Showalter, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a historic biographical picture.  Based on the 2000 documentary of the same name, the film tracks the rise and fall of Tammy Faye Baker (later Messner) (Mary 7, 1942-July 20, 2007) and was released to mixed reviews.  The movie received Academy Awards for Best Actress (Chastain) and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

eyes of tammy faye vincent donofrio jerry falwell

I’m Jerry Falwell, and I’m cranky!

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were always present growing up.  It was a time when even if you weren’t a religious family, you knew a lot of the shows on TV, and if you had any clout, you were interviewed everywhere.  When Jim and Tammy hit the skids in their company and planning, they really exploded…it wasn’t good for them and was schadenfreude for a lot of onlookers…The Eyes of Tammy Faye isn’t a totally apologetic movie, but it does cast a new light on Tammy Faye.

The takeaway from the movie is that Tammy Faye genuinely comes off as a believer and not someone entirely in it for the money.  Through the course of the movie, she has a lot of micro-aggressions to what is occurring with their organization, among the other holy-roller bigwigs, and the true meaning of being a Christian.  She is college educated, and she isn’t as flakey as was portrayed by the media, but that also means the movie doesn’t create a complete pass for her…she might not have been directly implicit in some of the questionable money use, but she knew better.  It really seems to come down to a more biblical “Stand by Your Man” mentality that blinds her.

eyes of tammy faye aids patient interview

More thoughtful than a lot of real news interviews at the time

Jessica Chastain (in general) can do no wrong and she overcomes the challenging aspect of biopics in that she makes the character not just an imitation but a rounded character.  Andrew Garfield’s Jim Bakker is a little more of an imitation, and Vincent D’Onofrio is pretty much a parody of Jerry Falwell.  I do feel that Cherry Jones Rachel LaValley (Tammy Faye’s mother) is a solid performance as well…as someone like Tammy Faye who has questions, but ends up going along with what is happening.

The makeup and stylings of the movie are top-notch.  Chastain in general doesn’t look a lot like Tammy Faye but through the makeup and performance, she does become her.  The makeup also helps Garfield who really doesn’t look like Jim Bakker, but it works here as well.  I do wish there had been a bit more recreation of some of the big TV moments surrounding the downfall, but the film also wasn’t about the downfall so much as Tammy Faye.

eyes of tammy faye final song jessica chastain

Tammy’s final swan song?

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a decent reminder that images and memories can be warped and time sometimes does help.  The showcase of the movie is Tammy Faye’s interview with an AIDS patient who was also a homosexual in the height of the AIDS crisis.  Rather than judging and shaming him, Faye’s questions are better and more rounded than many news people at the time who were covering the crisis…something that enraged people at the CBN, but proves, over time, to be the right way to approach the situation as a Christian.  Once you see the movie it is worth seeking out the actual interview and taking a second look at Tammy Faye and her legacy.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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