Jessica Chastain shines in this biopic centred on the trials, tribulations and televangelical legacy of the larger-than-life Tammy Faye Bakker.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
“In The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain play Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, the self-styled Christian TV personalities who did more than anyone else to mold televangelism into a game-changing, culture-shaking, credit-card-maxing industry/cult/diversion... Chastain and Garfield give performances that are brashly entertaining but also canny and layered, as the characters get caught up in something far bigger than themselves. The Bakkers were hucksters of a grand order, and the film uses their spectacular greedhead soap opera to tell the larger American story of how Christianity got turned into showbiz...
Why watch The Eyes of Tammy Faye instead of the original documentary, which is superb? Because this version, in heightening our connection to the characters, sheds new light on who they were and why they did what they did. It’s Tammy Faye who comes to occupy the spiritual center of the movie, and Chastain, tapping a bombs-away flamboyance she has never before approached, makes her a mesmerizing diva-victim who keeps evolving... Garfield makes Jim a postmodern con artist who looks ahead to our own era, and Chastain finds the complex heart of a woman who had a genuine love inside her, but loved fame too much. In their way, they created a pathology that lived beyond them, all built around the question: If the least Christian thing you can do is to sell your soul, is it any more Christian to save one because it belongs to the highest bidder?” — Owen Gleiberman, Variety