The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) Cover

Many people that I've talked to about Tammy Faye have been familiar with the publicized scandals between her and her husband, Jim Baker. However, I had zero clue about her life other than the short film synopsis I read before walking mostly blind into the theater (as the scandals went public before I was born). I was not prepared to be blown away by the film in the way that I was and this proves that this movie can engage with both audiences familiar and not familiar with Tammy's story. Directed by Michael Showalter, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a must-see film that will sustain your attention with Jessica Chastain's awards-worthy performance and its effectively fast-paced narrative that quickly becomes engrossingly enthralling.

Jim Baker (Andrew Garfield) and Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) built the largest broadcasting network known as The Praise the Lord Club  (or PTL Club) and the film takes a look at Tammy's strict religious upbringing with her family, how her and Jim met, how the duo built their television program, and the demolition of their life’s work due to an unexpected outrageous scandal. 

The transformative-powerhouse Jessica Chastain brings Faye to life and is sure to secure a spot in the Best Actress category come awards season! After watching the film I looked at real-life videos of Faye and was shocked at how on-point Chastain nailed her speaking voice and mannerisms. Chastain delivers a unique performance that stands out as original when compared with her other filmography. Some of her best work shines in scenes where she is experiencing conflicting emotions and the way she balances her nonverbal expressions and voice allows you to feel the weight and pressure in which she bears. Additionally, Andrew Garfield is amazing to work off of and he himself takes on the persona of Jim Baker in a way that is mesmerizing to watch. Both actors bring intrigue to these wacky over-the-top dramatic characters who are also surprisingly humorous in their communication with one another.

The pacing in the film is rapid-fast. The 2 hour and 6 minute running time covers decades of Jim and Tammy's life and every scene is crucial to moving the plot forward; it almost feels like the "pop-up book" version of their lives because of how fast it moves along. However, there’s no time to lose interest because all of what happened in these two people’s lives is riveting and so well communicated through its script, talent, and editing. The locations are constantly changing as the couple’s lives evolve and the consistent change in scenery allows this movie to feel refreshing as we see Jim and Tammy transitioning through the various phases of their lives. The make-up work in the film was vital and works wonderfully at aging the actors; the work is sure to be nominated for Best Make Up at the 2022 Oscars.

Some complaints towards the film regarding the screenplay seem to poke at the fact that the plot meanders from time to time but I believe any non-essential scenes fleshed the characters out and, particularly with the final act, give a satisfying resolve as to the type of person that Tammy becomes before the end of her life. 

Final Verdict:A must-see film that will sustain your attention with Jessica Chastain's awards-worthy performance and its narrative that quickly becomes engrossingly enthralling!