The Eyes of Tammy Faye

The Eyes of Tammy Faye ★½

Michael Showalter, what happened? The Big Sick is up there for the best rom com of the 2010s, but I am struggling over here with The Lovebirds and now this. Even with that eye-popping film poster.

For those that don't know, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is about the rise and fall of real life Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, Midwestern Reagan era televangelists. In their decline, Jim Bakker was imprisoned for financial fraud and the two divorced.

Andrew Garfield is Jim Bakker and Jessica Chastain is Tammy Faye. Garfield gives a serviceable performance, but Chastain is the one who shines. Her performance is just about the only thing I like about the movie. Her acting is nuanced and charismatic, and is complemented by excellent makeup and costume design. Call it Oscar bait if you'd like. If the Academy recognizes Chastain, then I will not be upset, although I am quite partial to Kidman's performance in Being the Ricardos.

While the Bakker story is interesting, especially for a millennial who had never heard of the Bakkers before, the story has to feature some of the dullest writing I can think of from recent movies. And it is all dressed up and disguised by the pretty makeup and production design. Extremely expositional, you really don't learn much about the Bakkers that you wouldn't have known already by skimming over the film's Wikipedia page. The pacing is awful too, halfway through I paused it hoping that the film was almost over, then realized I had a lot left to sit through. I very seriously considered turning it off and kind of wish I had.

Cherry Jones is great as the Mom, and again, the production design is impressive. But it just coats over what is otherwise a very mediocre movie, minus Chastain's performance. It sounds like the place to really learn about the Bakker's is from the 2000 documentary of the same name, The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Narrated by RuPaul, I much rather wish I watched that last night. Oh well.

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