Current available on Digital and coming to Bluray/DVD from Searchlight Pictures and director Michael Showalter is the biopic story of the rise and fall of a ministry through THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE.
Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) spent her formative years believing that she was made for something special with the guidance of God. Growing up knowing she was different, especially when it is explained by her mother Rachel (Cherry Jones), Tammy Faye had faith in more.
Off to college she meets young charismatic preacher Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield) and together they start an on-the-road ministry. Introduced to Pat Robert (Gabriel Olds), their calling comes to television and Tammy Faye is thrilled, Jim wants to reach more. Their chance finally comes when they create the PTL Club (Praise the Lord) and begin to reach homes 24 hours a day.
The donations come pouring in, but the marriage starts to fall away. Tammy Faye is looking to be loved and cherished but her husband is looking to keep the donation telephones ringing. He even seeks financial help to build Heritage Village with Roe Messner (Sam Jaeger) but it is Tammy Faye that gets him to agree.
Noticing their success, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart (Jay Huguley) and Jerry Falwell (Vincent D’Onofrio) are all looking for cracks in the holy foundation. When rumors about Jim begin to swirl, Tammy Faye watches as everything comes crashing down around her while asking ‘where are you God?’
Chastain as Tammy Faye gives viewers an almost spot-on look of Tammy Faye Bakker and a look into her younger years. Even though she is covered in make-up and hair, Chastain gives her character a vulnerability that can be overlooked by the glitz of the world the Bakker’s created. She did believe in loving everyone, no matter their circumstances and did not see the world the way the men surrounding her did. Chastain does what she is excellent at, slowly bringing us into an unknown world and easily believing we are looking at Tammy Faye.
Garfield as Bakker reminded me why I never did care for Bakker very much. There was and still is a narcissism that exudes from Jim Bakker and the actor nails it from start to finish. Telling Tammy Faye the story of how he came to be a minister explains the deep resentment the pastor must have had about giving up his dream. Realizing he could still have that dream; Garfield portrays Bakker as a unreputable man hiding behind the good book.
Jones as Rachel is Tammy Faye’s mother who made it clear from the beginning that her own choices left markings on her daughters’ life. Always blunt, she is also always there when Tammy Faye needed her.
D’Onofrio as Falwell is a man who outwardly wants to be of some assistant to Bakker and is clearly annoyed with the way Tammy Faye handles things. Inwardly he jealous of Bakker’s success and turns on a dime. Olds as Roberts also makes his feelings clear on the PTL’s success, and Huguley as Swaggart had a successful ministry of his own – until it fell as well. All of these pastors claimed to care about their fellow minister but games comes in all shapes and religions.
Other cast include Fredric Lehne as Fred Grover, Louis Cancelmi as Richard Fletcher and Mark Wystrach as Gary Paxton.
Searchlight Pictures is responsible for such films as SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, THE SHAPE OF WATER and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI. They have an extensive film library as well as documentaries, scripted series, and limited series. For more information, please visit www.searchlightpictures.com.
Searchlight Pictures’ The Eyes of Tammy Faye Bonus Features – A Look Inside The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Hear what drew Jessica Chastain, cast mates and filmmakers to The Eyes of Tammy Faye. From prosthetics to singing, uncover Jessica Chastain’s remarkable multi-layered transformation into Tammy Faye Bakker.
The film has garnered recognition by the San Sebastian International Film Festival with a win for Jessica Chastain for Best Leading Performance, also the Toronoto International Film Festival with a Tribute Award also for Jessica Chastain. The Women’s Image Network Awards gives Jessica Chastain a Best Actress Award along with nominations for Best Feature Film and Best Film Produced by a Woman.
THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE comes in at a little over two hours from her humble beginnings until the fall from grace and what that leads too. Never giving up even after Bakker falls, she attempts to do whatever she can to take care of herself. Returning to her humble beginnings (except for her continual love of big eyelashes and gauche makeup), no one was going to shake her belief.
Chastain and Garfield bring this one-time successful religious couple from college to their downfall. These two actors gave it everything and that is important when trying to tell the story of an unbelievable couple during an unbelievable time. The costuming is fantastic and that adds more depth and intensity to the story of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
I remember, when living in a southern state, seeing Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker on television constantly by many people I knew. The devotion was intense, and I never judged, only hated that money was given so freely to people who clearly did not need it for the purposes it was asked for. When the couple fell, it broke the hearts of the same people which in turn shocked me as I did not understand how they still gave money. Then again, it still happens today except now with politicians!
Tammy Faye would eventually marry Roe Messner and succumb to cancer in 2007.
In the end – sometimes in life you have to take your lashes!