The true story of the rise and fall of televangelists Tammy Faye
and Jim Bakker, who created a media empire in the name of God.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)
Directed by Michael Showalter
Written by Abe Sylvia
Starring Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D'Onofrio, Cherry Jones, Sam Jaeger, Fredric Lehne
Based on the 2000 documentary
I despise televangelists with every fiber of my being. Anyone who exploits desperate people in the name of God is a salesman, plain and simple. They sell God to people who need to believe in something, and they get away with murder for it. It didn't start with Jim Bakker, but it certainly grew in popularity because of him and his well-meaning but naïve wife Tammy Faye. The media empire they created reached 20 million people worldwide at the height of their power, and the money they cheated their viewers out of paid for their mansions, their theme park fantasies, and their legal fees once Jim was arrested for fraud. This film tells their story, as well as the story of the rise of televangelism in America as a whole. It's freaky how ingrained this bullshit is into this country's DNA, but like it or not, this is part of our modern history.
Jessica Chastain is unrecognizable and absolutely mesmerizing as Tammy Faye. Her makeup, her voice, everything about her is perfectly captured in a career-best performance. Andrew Garfield is no slouch as Jim Bakker, playing him as a little man with a big chip who wanted to be powerful via the word of God. Vincent D'Onofrio is stellar as humungous piece of shit Jerry Falwell, the man who brought evangelism into politics in the 80's and cheated Jim and Tammy Faye out of their PTL network. The cast is lights out and I really hope all three get Oscar attention next spring.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye shows how Tammy Faye Bakker really did want to help people, regardless of sexual orientation or political affiliation. She didn't like telling people they were going to Hell just because of who they loved. She was very active in the gay community at the height of the AIDS crisis, and saw her life as a divine mission to bring happiness to people who were lost. Regardless of what you think about her faith or her involvement in Jim's fraud case, you've got to admire her dedication to wanting to do the right thing.