“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” Review Roundup: Jessica Chastain Stuns in Heartbreaking Performance
The Eyes of Tammy Faye made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, which means that now we’ve got a sense of what the critics are saying. Unsurprisingly, there is already Oscar buzz for the film’s star, Jessica Chastain, for her performance playing the famous televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. Critics were mesmerized by Chastain’s embodiment of Tammy Faye, from the lashes to the soul, with Andrew Garfield also earning Oscar chatter for playing Tammy Faye’s deeply morally compromised husband, Jim Bakker. The film comes from veteran comedy writer and director Michael Showalter, who isn’t here to punish or impugn, but to reveal just what made Tammy Faye tick. The Bakkers channeled their passion for Christian evangelism and money into creating the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park. If you know anything about their story or the Bible, you know the rise comes before the fall. Their fall was spectacular and very, very public.
The Bakkers success collapsed into scandal when revelations about their PTL Club (Praise the Lord) included sending nearly $300,000 to buy the silence of model and actress Jessica Hahn, who claimed Jim Bakker raped her. Jim Bakker was eventually sentenced to 45 years in prison on 24 fraud and conspiracy counts.
Yet Tammy Faye’s life in the public eye wasn’t over. Nor were her views always in lockstep with the larger Christian evangelical community, which included an acceptance of and compassion for the LGBT community. This was stance was made most emphatically when she interviewed Steven Pieters (played by Randy Havens in the film), a gay Christian minister with AIDS, on her show “Tammy’s House Party.” During that segment, Tammy Faye made an emotional plea to her fellow Christians to love everyone, including those suffering from AIDS. She also interviewed drug addicts on her show, even while she herself was being treated for prescription drug addiction.
Now here’s a glimpse at what some of the critics are saying. The Eyes of Tammy Faye hits theaters on September 17:
I have converted! The Eyes of Tammy Faye is fantastic. Get ready to see a truly remarkable transformation from @jes_chastain in @eyesoftammyfaye She is mesmerizing and charismatic, you can’t take your eyes off of her. Wait until you hear and see her sing, it is astounding. pic.twitter.com/qw5L5sMHDv
— Jazz Tangcay (@jazzt) September 13, 2021
THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE is about to make its world premiere at #TIFF21, and as someone who has already watched it, let me just say that the world is not ready for the way that Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield transform into their respective roles. pic.twitter.com/ihmpkxUWFF
— Max Gao • 高俊鹏 • #TIFF21 (@MaxJGao) September 13, 2021
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is yet another fine example of how talented Michael Showalter is as a filmmaker. An entertaining yet tragic look at the rise & fall of Tammy Faye with two fantastic performances by Andrew Garfield & Jessica Chastain. Highly Recommended. #TheEyesofTammyFaye pic.twitter.com/hrIwvKNNFn
— Scott Menzel (@ScottDMenzel) September 13, 2021
Jessica Chastain not only delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in the title role in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, she developed and produced the televangelist biopic. And she loves her character to boot. #TIFF pic.twitter.com/AoBAQ8LqVl
— Anne Thompson (@akstanwyck) September 13, 2021
THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE: Jessica Chastain is going to win every award for this. And she deserves to. My @nowtoronto review: https://t.co/BPknd18atK #TIFF21
— Norm Wilner (@normwilner) September 13, 2021
Jessica Chastain is so warm, mesmerizing, and just flat out phenomenal in Eyes of Tammy Faye. I’m prepared to go door to door campaigning for her to get all the awards. Hallelujah amen!🙏
— Chris Rudolph (@chrisreindeer) September 13, 2021
Perri Nemiroff, YouTube: “A fascinating and often heartbreaking exploration of accountability via a collision of passion, fame, fortune and the media with a show-stopping performance from Jessica Chastain at its core.”
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: “People called her a clown, but “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” shows her as someone more complicated and much more interesting.”
Brian Truitt, USA Today: “It’s going to be tough not to worship at the altar of Jessica Chastain throughout this Oscar season.”
Here’s the synopsis for The Eyes of Tammy Faye:
THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE is an intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. Tammy Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. However, it wasn’t long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire.
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Featured image: Jessica Chastain as “Tammy Faye Bakker” in the film THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved