The Eyes of Tammy Faye, starring Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield, is one of many Oscar contenders to launch in Toronto.
The film focuses on the rise, fall, and later redemption of Tammy Faye Bakker (Jessica Chastain). Listen, I don’t need to rehash the biography here. If you want to know more, watch the documentary that this film is based on. Or maybe yet, go over to search for her Wikipedia page. The same goes for Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield).
What I can tell you is that once we reach a certain point in the film, Jessica Chastain is unrecognizable under all the hair and makeup. However, the biggest problem with the film is that Andrew Garfield’s Jim Bakker looks the same in 1960 as he does throughout much of the film. This is the problem with biopics–they stretch too much time, I’ve seen other films that do a better job with the hair and makeup to sell their ages. This one? Maybe with Chastain but certainly not with Garfield. It’ll be interesting to see just how Searchlight decides to campaign it. The only time that Garfield comes close to looking like his character’s age–after we meet him–is when he’s in jail. It’s a big problem when the makeup sells one character and not the other–that this film lives and dies on that is everything.
I’m going to be honest in that I am not in the film’s target demographic. What else is there to say? I’m Jewish and the content of this film isn’t something that really requires my opinion on it. It’s not going to convert me although there’s bound to be some irony that Andrew Garfield, who identifies as Jewish, is portraying a televangelist. If you’ve read my review of Til Kingdom Come, you know my own views when it comes to right-wing evangelicals. I appreciate that Tammy Faye was a supporter of LGBTQ people but I wish this could be said of more evangelicals. Instead, they’d rather I not have rights as a transgender American. The words coming out of Jerry Falwell Sr.’s mouth when Tammy is talking with the gay pastor is enough to make me cringe.
This is what sets Tammy Faye apart from the rest of the televangelists. How many of them would invite HIV/AIDS activist Steve Pieters (Randy Havens) onto their shows? My guess is zero. They would just as quickly turn their back on a gay pastor. You know it and I know it. And yet, here is Tammy Faye bringing him onto the show while Falwell, Sr. is visiting their network. Did that happen in real life or do they do this to up the dramatic stakes? I don’t know. I know what Leviticus says about homosexuality, But did you know what it says in the next chapter? You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The following is the commentary to Leviticus 19:18:
Rabbi Akiva says: “This is a fundamental [all-inclusive] principle of the Torah.” – [Torath Kohanim 19:45]
What you take away from The Eyes of Tammy Faye is up to you but as for me, it’s hard getting past Andrew Garfield’s hair and makeup job and this doesn’t even take religion into account.
DIRECTOR: Michael Showalter
SCREENWRITER: Abe Sylvia
CAST: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, and Vincent D’Onofrio