‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’ review: Jessica Chastain shines

Spanning a number of a long time (and burying the leads beneath make-up earlier than it is over), the movie begins with Tammy and Jim assembly in 1960 and follows them into the ’90s. The pair initially embark on a whirlwind romance, constructed across the need to evangelise the gospel and make a killing doing it. “God doesn’t need us to be poor,” a younger Jim says, elevating the eyebrows of his Bible instructor.

Inside a number of years, they uncover tv, taking a job working for Pat Robertson’s Christian broadcasting operation, with Jim spouting the phrase and Tammy beguiling children with puppets and track.

Tammy’s method to faith welcomes everybody, which places her at odds with Jerry Falwell Sr. (Vincent D’Onofrio), who not solely winces at a girl coming into the dialog however seeks to construct the non secular proper’s political energy via condemnation of gays.

“We paid for all this,” the couple marvels upon seeing Robertson’s palatial property, earlier than the Bakkers launch their very own broadcasting empire, the Reward The Lord community (PTL), funneling cash into their lavish life-style virtually as quick as their viewers (or “companions,” as Jim calls them) can cellphone in contributions.

Tailored from the 2000 documentary of the identical title by director Michael Showalter (“The Big Sick”) and author Abe Sylvia, the film bounces alongside fitfully via the flush years, exposing strains within the relationship as Tammy ultimately turns to drugs, washing them down with Eating regimen Coke.
Andrew Garfield and Jessica Chastain as Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker in 'The Eyes of Tammy Faye' (Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures).

Questions persist, in the meantime, about PTL’s shady funds, with Jim utilizing what he dismisses as being “persecuted by the secular press” as one other technique of separating the flock from their cash.

Presently in HBO’s “Scenes From a Marriage,” Chastain remarkably manages to remodel into Tammy Faye — from the chirpy voice to the cartoon eyelashes — and nonetheless get past mere impersonation. As for supporting gamers, few register aside from Tammy’s skeptical mom (Cherry Jones), who has the nice sense to maintain asking how her daughter pays for these fabulous frocks and lakefront dwelling.

Whereas Showalter punctuates the film with precise information clips and deftly recreates the Bakkers’ surreal “Nightline” interview, the malfeasance occurring inside PTL is dealt with vaguely. Jim snaps at Tammy as he obsesses over his varied offers, however by sympathetically retaining the concentrate on seeing via her eyes the narrative turns into messy, leaving blind spots in regards to the community’s internal workings earlier than all of it comes crashing down.

In a single respect “Eyes of Tammy Faye” feels inordinately well timed, with Falwell discussing the facility of budding conservative media offsetting voices on the left, and the Bakkers encouraging their viewers to belief them and tune out critics.

Just like the documentary, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” highlights contradictions and complexity surrounding its title character largely missed on the time, from daring to compassionately interview somebody with AIDS (prompting a rebuke from Falwell) to the misogynistic remedy she confronted each throughout the religion group and from the media.

It is a terrific efficiency — laying on all that make-up solely to dig via it and discover the girl inside. But it surely comes within the service of a film that does not measure as much as it.

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” premieres in US theaters on Sept. 17. It is rated PG-13.

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