Director: Michael Showalter
Story By: Abe Sylvia
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D’Onofrio, & Cherry Jones
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This is one of about 3 or 4 films I have been excited about for this third quarter of the year. I love Jessica Chastain, and I remember the era of the telethons and pledging. Additionally, I love a good biopic or documentary/docuseries/docufilm, so this screamed “see me.”
I was so happy with this film. This is going to be such a tough category of women leads this year. Jessica Chastain did her damn thing.
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Below are my grades for key components in #TheEyesOfTammyFaye that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development.
Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.
I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.
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Plot & Story: A
Character Arc/Development: A
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General Public: Worth the $$$
Familiar w/ church pledging: Worth the $$$
Biopic Lovers: Worth the $$$
Film Enthusiasts: Worth the $$$
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1. It took me a while to really put into words what the messaging of this biopic was, especially through the eyes of “Tammy Faye” and the too quick exposition of her childhood. However, what I walked away with is a pretty cohesive story that focuses on “using religion to perform/the consequences of performative religion.”
The mother is a well placed static character (and semi-foil) character who helps to allude to this message in every scene she shares with Tammy.
Additionally, Act Three and the second half of Act Two through Jim Bakker really solidifies this theme.
I also think the glimpse of young Tammy observing the church as her spark of interest helps to allow this message to stick as well. 👍🏾👍🏾
2. Baby! When she was in the backseat of that jeep in that white mink… …. 😂😂😂😂Oh how the tables turned.
3. I will say, their hustle was definitely admirable. 🙌🏾
4. Even though I wish a little more time was given to providing some more insight to young Tammy to help really weave in some of older Tammy’s actions, I appreciated how quickly the film got us to Jessica Chastain’s performance/delivery (y’all know I am not a fan of child actors in biopics much for a couple of reasons lol).
The pacing between Acts was also well done in order to get to more of the intimate/ behind the scenes interactions between Tammy and Jim vs focusing so much of the building of this “church-cult.” Pacing allowed me to see and understand the character and the specific role religion played in the cultivation of her life. 👍🏾👍🏾
5. When she walked by and said, “I mean who else would know my husband better than me…” and gave that look… 😂😂😂
6. I really loved how the film also weaved in issues concerning patriarchy and the role of the church during the AIDS epidemic. 👍🏾👍🏾
7. Speaking of being able to see the character, the arc for Tammy was much stronger than the overall development (again, due to the short childhood exposition).
Jessica Chastain delivered an amazing performance, and so did Andrew Garfield —He was so great though subtle. When I think about it, Tammy has the arc and Jim had the development (mainly in Acts Two and Three) which is actually a very smart direction to take.
Through Tammy, we see the ways her decisions were impacted by this conflicting loyalty to her husband, family, this “faith,” and her personal dreams. Jessica really showed her ass/acted her ass off in Act Three. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
Through Jim, we see the development of success and “access” taking over his “faith” in more ways than one. 👍🏾👍🏾
8. She said, “you can kiss my neck, but don’t leave a mark.” 😂😂😂
9. That ABC Nightly News interview was so awkward and cringey. 🤭🥴
10. What we have is a story about a couple who can be described as alarmingly devoted to religion/God, and the power such devotion has over people, who set out to do what they believe is “bringing the love of God to others”…for a monthly subscription.
Every Act executes this story well whether it’s through the visuals in each scene, the dialogue, or through each of our main characters. The story is solid. 👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾
11. Jerry was SOOOO messy with them facts at that press conference (or whatever it was). 😂😂😂
12. Tammy kept them nails together!
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Overall, #TheEyesOfTammyFaye gives Boogie Nights- meets Respect – meets The Serpent – meets Wolf on Wall Street. I found myself triggered a bit because when I was a child living in Peoria, Illinois, there was a woman and her husband who attempted to start this small church that always made me feel uncomfortable (my grandmother made us go—she wasn’t a “Christian” in that way, but had those spurts where she felt we needed to go to church more…). This couple also felt odd and a little too forced to me, and then later on we heard that there was a lot of weird domestic violence happening between the “pastor” and his wife.
But I wasn’t too triggered to enjoy this film. It was so good, and such a joy to see after experiencing “just okay” films that have been released in the past months. Jessica Chastain will definitely be nominated for her performance, and Andrew Garfield might be a close contender for a category as well—I do wonder about the mental state of Jim Bakker because of Andrew’s delivery/portrayal of him.
I also loved how the film tackled patriarchy (especially in that time span) and the role of these “mega churches” during the height of the AIDS epidemic.