the eyes of tammy faye review

TIFF 2021 – JESSICA CHASTAIN DELIVERS AN OSCAR WORTHY PERFORMANCE IN THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE

Based on a 2020 documentary of the same name, The Eyes Of Tammy Faye is a film adaptation of the real life rise and fall of televangelist couple Tammy Faye Bakker (played by Jessica Chastain) and Jim Bakker (played by Andrew Garfield).

The film begins by exploring Tammy Faye Bakker’s childhood, from growing up in poverty in Minnesota and her early religious awakening, to being a product of divorcesomething that was taboo at the time. It is a story of religion, politics, love and greed, providing insight into the couple’s call to ministry, rise to fame, and subsequent fall from grace.

The film depicts the Bakkers as over the top; almost as parodies of themselves. At times audiences may feel like they’re watching a scene out of a sketch comedy show.

Andrew Garfield portrays Jim Bakker as a sometimes weak and egotistical man who used his religious influence to fund his selfish ambitions. Meanwhile, Jessica Chastain delivers an Oscar nomination worthy performance as she morphs into Bakker, capturing her childlike exuberance for God, life and people. She also captures her brokenness and humanity, including her infidelity and drug addiction.

But Bakker was also a woman who was defiant in her convictions which is shown in the film. The Eyes Of Tammy Faye can be seen as a type of metaphor for the vision and aspirations of a woman who was ahead of her time. She supported the LGBTQ community and people suffering with HIV/AIDS in a time when it was taboo not only the church, but in society. She also embodied feminist ideas, boldly daring to take her place alongside her husband and other men in a traditionally male dominated environment. 

But at its core, the film is simply about the fine line between faith and delusion. Although there is an underlying theme of redemption, the film’s tragic beginning is met with an equally tragic ending.

If you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, this film is an interesting behind the scenes glimpse into the secret lives of a couple that captured the minds and hearts of America. For everyone else, it is a cautionary tale about the possibility of losing yourself along the road to success despite beginning with good intentions.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is available through digital screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Click the header to check out the trailer.


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