8/10 After watching the 1990 Lifetime movie “Fall From Grace” (Kevin Spacey plays Jim Bakker and the title couldn’t be more ironic for a Spacey movie) followed by the 2000 documentary “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, this film adaptation keeps the documentary title but drastically improves the quality in this entertaining, emotional and well acted film. While the made for TV movie was cheesy and rather rushed (you can find it for free on YouTube if you feel so inclined), the documentary was pretty decent. It is very much a product of its time and a bit has happened to Tammy Faye since its release in 2000 but it was educational and I enjoyed contrasting the documentary with this modern film adaptation. This film leans into Jim Bakker’s homosexual accusations while ignoring some of the Jessica Hahn allegations in the detail that the previous movies went into. Director Michael Showalter and writer Randy Barbato are smart to not just follow the events of the documentary beat by beat but instead make this film their own. The story is a fascinating one with multiple layers and themes all well balanced. The film is able to tackle faith, romance, addiction, scandal, religious infighting, careers, etc. without feeling overstuffed or bloated. The best aspect of the film without a doubt is the acting. Even though Oscar season hasn’t officially began yet, if Jessica Chastain isn’t nominated for Best Actress, it will be a huge disservice as this is one of her best performances that she has ever given. Andrew Garfield continues to be underrated and excels at playing characters based off of real people (“Hacksaw Ridge”, “Breathe”, “The Social Network”). While he is phenomenal here, Chastain really steals the show and her dedication is awe inspiring. From her acting to her Minnesota accent to the musical numbers to the make-up she wears, Chastain doesn’t hold anything back and at this point in 2021, has given the best performance of the year. The production design and costume design expertly recreate the time period and even the hair styling and make-up does a great job of aging our leading performers. At around two hours long, the pacing works well and not a moment is wasted. While 99% of biopics do cover some familiar beats, you won’t mind while watching this film since Faye and Bakker’s story is fascinating. The film has some strong humor at the beginning (Christians rushing into marriage always cracks me up) but also brought me to tears at a couple points as well. Despite these people not being extremely moral and falling prey to the money and power they received, we still feel for them and recognize the hardships they faced and acknowledge that they did help other people and give to charities. The moral grey area the film conveys is fascinating as even today we look at many televangelists who are millionaires (Joel Osteen) as there is a good debate to be had about how much money non-profits and churches should be allowing their leaders to relish in, while they struggle to pay their main bills. That is a debate for another time but for now, just know that “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” leans much closer in quality to director Showalter’s fantastic “The Big Sick” than it does to the abysmal “The Lovebirds”. This film is a must see for Chastain’s performance alone.

#HerFayetIsSealed / #ABakkersDozenFelonies / #JudasKissAndMakeUp / #FalwellAndGood / #TheCharlatanObserver / #FayePride

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