“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” has all the ingredients for an Oscars contender. It had a TIFF world premiere, it’s a time-period biopic based on a polarizing couple in American history, and it’s led by the talents of Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield. But let’s dive into this one to see if it all comes together.
Now, I was an 80’s kid, and a 90’s teen. So, I certainly remember the rise, and subsequent fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. I also love the acting ability of Chastain and Garfield, and as a fan of both “The Big Sick” and “The Lovebirds”, two films directed by Michael Showalter, I was curious to see what this movie would deliver in terms of cinematic story-telling and its exploration of historical events.
Overall, this was a fine film. It was actually quite good. It held my attention, and the performances were impressive. Garfield, and in particular Chastain both pour themselves in these characters to bring them to life on the big-screen. Chastain was fantastic and she without question steals each scene. Yet, it was also missing some elements that kept it from being a great movie outside of her performance.
Chastain as Tammy Faye was layered with emotion, and she brought all the personality traits the world can remember from this charismatic figure in American history to life. From her passion for religion, and her love of music, to her open-minded thinking in a very narrow-minded culture, Chastain brought it all to the screen.
She was easily the best element of this movie. However, the story didn’t surround her with the same creative impact. The progression felt very much like it was poured into the Hollywood biopic mold. It covers many years and many layers of her life, but it never felt like it was digging deep into the history of this couple nor their impact on the religious community.
I wouldn’t say the story played it safe, but it kind of does. It does paint Tammy Faye in a positive light despite her assumed evangelistic mob-wife approach to what her husband was doing on the business side. Garfield is impressive as Bakker, but the story doesn’t really dive into his business actions either other than when needed with quick references here and there. Which were primarily there to capture a vague timeline.
So, what’s left is a film with a few great parts that equal much more than the sum of completed movie when watching. Chastain captivates. Garfield is extremely capable as well, and their chemistry felt authentic to the real-life personas. The production design was detailed, and it did pull me back into the era as it navigates this couple’s religious journey. But it also feels like a big-budget production lacking atmosphere and the needed deep dive into who these people really were. It has its moments of quality story-telling, and Chastain delivers a memorable performance. But its surface level exploration, and formulaic progression, in the end make it potentially forgettable.
Anthony J Digioia II – The SilverScreen Analysis © All Rights Reserved