Film Review – The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

films, reviews

Rating: 3 out of 5.

So, last night’s Oscars ceremony was pretty memorable, right? It’s a shame that Chris Rock’s bad and offensive joke is the thing that people will remember more than anything. I know most people are focusing on Will Smith’s reaction, and it’s not something I’m dismissing. However, the conversation should really be about why that joke was even made in the first place. You might think I’m a little oversensitive as a fellow alopecia sufferer but that doesn’t make Rock’s joke any less misogynistic, disrespectful and totally unnecessary. Why bring her into it? Why make a joke about an illness that she can’t do anything about? Fuck, Chris Rock.

But what about the actual awards? I can’t say that I’ve been keeping up with the Oscar-nominated films this year. I guess after the last few years, I’m still not fully back in the film groove. I’ve seen a depressingly small number of films that were nominated in the different categories. I’ve definitely dropped the ball. I’m trying to catch up a bit more. Thankfully, I’m already one down after I watched this the other day. Of course, when I watched it, I didn’t realise Jessica Chastain was nominated for Best Actress.

In fact, I didn’t really know anything about Tammy Faye until I saw Ginger Minj play her on the Snatch Game on Drag Race All Stars 2. Not that I really got to know about her after I saw it but at least I knew she existed. So I didn’t go into this film completely blind but it’s not as if I had any real expectations. Still, Andrew Garfield is absolutely killing it at the moment. Plus, it was available on Disney+ and wasn’t too long. I guess it’s my kind of film.

Having watched it, I can’t pretend that I know a lot more about Tammy Faye Bakker but I guess I have more context for the whole story. The film also raises some interesting points about her support of LGBTQ community and her girl-power approach to televangelism. You can see why Drag Queens are obsessed with her. Not just a reference to her tattooed lip liner and epic eye make-up. Ignore all of the dodgy stuff that she got messed up in and she’s a clear queer icon. Something that Jessica Chastain does a pretty good job portraying. She manages to give Tammy Faye plenty of fire but also showcases some vulnerability. Is it Oscar worthy? Too late for me to weigh in on that now I guess.

After a childhood spent being shunned by her church, Tammy Faye was obviously desperate to find a way to for in. She was looking for attention and love. Something she thinks she’s found with Jim. The pair quickly make their way up the ladder of evangelical preachers. Making their way to television and going on to own a network. It’s quite the underdog story but heavily tinged with fraud and deceit. It’s not that this isn’t an enjoyable film but I can’t help but feel that it held back a fair bit. It treads very lightly on all areas. Like Tammy Faye herself. One minute she’s not pulling any punches and the next she loses all her spark. It’s a cop-out.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is an interesting film and makes some small steps into providing context for the Bakkers scandal. However, it’s pretty superficial. The film looks gorgeous and vibrant. In terms of content, it barely scratches the surface. We don’t get to the heart of Tammy Faye or the reason why she followed her husband down that path.

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