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The Eyes of Tammy Faye                review by Bobby Blakey 


The 700 Club and PTL Network have been around it seems forever and no figures were more polarizing during those early days than Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. Through the religious empire and dramatic fall it was an interesting story to follow on the news and always surprised me that there wasn’t a bigger feature film on them. Now Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield have teamed up for the roles for the film The Eyes of Tammy Faye from The Big Sick and The Lovebirds director Michael Showalter. Could this bring the story to faithful life or will it be too full of sin?

The Eyes of Tammy Faye follows 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.

Growing up I remember watching the 700 Club and the PTL Network sometimes and never understanding the fascination of it all. I understand being religious and faith, but just the overall ideals of these TV evangelists just always seems shifty. Heading into this film I was hoping that it would offer up a compelling story and not fall into the same direction of the actual shows. Thankfully both Chastain and Garfield bring excellent performances to the roles and makes the film work to perfection.

I thought this might be just focusing on Tammy Faye and it does, but there is a pretty balanced approach to both their journeys. You always wonder

about where people like this really stand when they are ripping people off, but it was interesting to see that their journey seemed to really start with true faith and well placed ideals. It also made it appear that she was really never that far from the path despite the stuff she was wrapped up in with Jim. Of course we will never know what she really knew but it is what it is here.

Chastain is outstanding in the role bringing all the mannerisms and nuances that I remember from the real Tammy Faye. The make-up on both her and Garfield is great and really makes you feel like you are seeing these two polarizing figures. This isn’t an overly exciting movie, but thanks to these two great performances the movie stays engaging and interesting from beginning to end.

Whether you know the story or not check out The Eyes of Tammy Faye available now on digital, Blu-ray and DVD from Searchlight Pictures.

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