Movie #33 2022: The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

Let’s be real, I only watched this because Jessica Chastain was rumoured to be the frontrunner for Best Actress at the Oscars. And, well, it’s a good job I did, isn’t it?! The real question I had with this though is ‘is The Eyes of Tammy Faye a good movie in and of itself, or did Chastain carry the entire thing?’ Well, let’s see…

Based on the real lives of Tammy Faye Bakker and her husband Jim, the film is almost semi-autobiographical in nature. The Bakkers were televangelists in the 1970s and 1980s, and to most Brits, they’d probably never heard of them. (I’ll be honest, the only reason I’d heard of Tammy Faye previously was because of this ridiculous Drag Race performance by Ginger Minj). What the film delves into though is whether or not the Bakkers believed in what they were preaching, or whether it was all just a big ploy for money and sponsorship deals.

Naaaah you’re right. You’re all right. Jessica Chastain deserved that Oscar. Though she’s always very, very good, she’s a cut above in this instance.

In the same breath, it is extremely telling that the only two nominations this received this year came for Chastain and the (really impressive) make up. (It won in both categories, by the way.) No nominations for writing or cinematography for example seem to suggest that this is an exact mirror of Meryl Streep and The Iron Lady – good performance, meh movie. The screenplay itself is simply way too unfocused; why are you trying to squeeze an entire life into 130 minutes? It’s too much and Chastain’s performance deserves more, in the same way Streep deserved more in 2011. (I say this, but I’ve not actually seen the Margaret Thatcher movie. Either way, it’s pretty universally acknowledged that that movie sucked.)

The filmmaking itself is absolutely fine, don’t get me wrong. Everything is framed perfectly well, there’s a coherence to it and there’s evidence of some really good set design. Of course, as already mentioned, the hair and make up are almost perfect. Aside from that, there’s nothing outstanding or special about the way this film is made. It’s unlikely that anyone will remember the film itself ten years from now (The Iron Lady once again springs to mind) and I can’t even say it was consistently entertaining. It’s all just… fine

It’s difficult to review this movie without just waxing lyrical about Jessica Chastain, but ultimately she is what makes the entire thing watchable. That’s not to say that the other performances aren’t good – Andrew Garfield does a particularly good job at making you despise Jim Bakker – but before this, I knew relatively little about Tammy Faye. After seeing it, I feel as though this leading performance made me an undying fan of hers.

Overall, I can’t pretend that I had the most fun with The Eyes of Tammy Faye, but I did have a lot of fun with the character of Tammy Faye. There’s no reason that it deserved a single other Oscar nomination though.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Enjoyability Rating: 

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