“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” Review: How to Secure an Oscar Nomination, by Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Photo Courtesy: Searchlight Pictures

Rating: 8/10

I don’t particularly like biopic films — I feel miniseries lend themselves better to telling the full story of a person’s life — and I’m an atheist. So the idea of a biopic movie about the real-life televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker didn’t immediately hook me.

I’m partial to Jessica Chastain though — with or without Oscar Isaac kissing her arm. She’s the reason why I braved a press screening of The Eyes of Tammy Faye during an ongoing pandemic (the movie opens this Friday, September 17 exclusively in movie theaters). I’m glad I did.

Chastain not only dons the over-the-top wigs, prosthetics, makeup and costumes to portray Tammy Faye throughout several decades of her life, but she’s also one of the producers of the film; her company, Freckle Films, developed this story after buying the rights to Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's 2000 documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Like Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, she’s one of the leading actresses out there spearheading the kind of movies and roles she wants to see made.

The film is directed by Michael Showalter (The Big Sick) and written by Abe Sylvia (Dead to Me). It spans decades, from Tammy Faye’s youth to the moment she met her husband, Jim (Andrew Garfield), and captures how they went from small-time preachers and puppeteers in the 1960s to creating the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and hosting a daily show in the 1970s and ‘80s.