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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye

See It Or Skip It: See It

A Revolutionary Uproar From Centuries Past

Humility in the face of humiliation is extremely admirable. We don’t see that enough. What we do see is other people going down simply through their associations with other people. Maybe they did nothing wrong themselves, but because they’re involved with someone who finds themselves in the face of ruin, that person must be ruined too. This way of thinking used to sound too harsh to me but in 2022, I can see why it’s fair. We are obligated to a certain point to be cautious of who we surround ourselves with and what we do with them. Maybe we have a feeling that something going on that’s just not right, we just can’t be 100% certain. More often than not, we look the other way and then feel victimized when everything comes out in the open and crashes down.

Tammy Faye Messner was only half that person. She ignored all the warning signs and carried on with life but when things came crashing down she didn’t feel victimized. She was upset with the main person responsible of course but on a wider scale, she simply continued spreading love the way she knew how. She stepped out when no one else in her circle would and comforted those no one in her circle was comforting.

Jessica Chastain transforms painfully but necessarily into Tammy Faye for The Eyes Of Tammy Faye. It really is Tammy’s eyes we are seeing everything through. The perceptions of the supporting cast are her perception of their feelings. This really is a one-person show and Chastain delivers until the very end. Tammy Faye was a cheery, naive, and innocent young woman who marries Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield), a Christian televangelist who started a successful program with Tammy Faye. The program (Which consisted of Jim preaching, Tammy singing, and both of them playing with puppets) was a huge success and eventually, Jim was able to expand the business and turn it into an empire. Revelations of accounting fraud brought about felony charges, conviction, and imprisonment for Jim. Tammy soon divorced him and to this day, many see her as the scorned wife who fell from grace. Tammy could have played that role but she wanted to play her own role so it was an easy decision for her. The most memorable controversy is when she interviewed Steven Pieters, a gay Christian minister with AIDS during which they discussed his sexuality, coming out, his diagnosis, and the death of his partner.

The studio executives were absolutely livid of course but Tammy didn’t care. She only cared about what she believed was the right thing and the certainty with which she carries herself is something Chastain absolutely saw as the key factor to this woman. She’s naive and innocent but she’s not stupid. She doesn’t see human suffering as something she’s confronted with that she didn’t know about, she sees someone she can try and comfort in some way. Some embrace her, others reject but she carries on just the same. Tammy and Jim are married for most of the film but the point is she didn’t need him to do the kind things she did and she did them in spite of her entrapment of marriage.

Andrew Garfield really doesn’t have that much to work within this film but he works with everything he has just the same and his performance is one that leaves you able to see how Tammy was conned so easily. Bakker saw why Tammy would be such a success in his world but he also underestimated her. He never would have predicted his downfall thinking he knows everything but how Tammy would rise above was the ultimate slap in the face and it’s a slap he deservedly had coming.

There’s a moment when Tammy’s in bed feeling suspicious.

Tammy: ……………..We’re not doing anything wrong though.

Bakker looks up but doesn’t turn to face her: Is THAT a question?

Here you see Tammy is processing the warning signs but Bakker’s reaction makes her swallow any doubt she harbors. Back then when powerful men fell, their wives fell with them. They didn’t just pick and start new lives and seek new opportunities on their own. Tammy Faye was very revolutionary in that way. She harbors frustration in some scenes but that frustration is a coping mechanism to deal with her fear. She doesn't have an angry bone in her body. If she does, she hides it perfectly.

Tammy’s mother (Cherry Jones) opens the door early in the film to see Tammy Faye and Jim standing together smiling.

Tammy: Hello mother, this is Jim Bakker, My Husband!!

She’s giggly and jumpy and her mother just looks exhausted. It’s not far-fetched to her that Tammy would do something like this. This is the Tammy her mother knows and the Tammy Jim thinks he knows but doesn’t. He never saw her, only what she could do for him. Tammy’s sincerity in her faith is really what drives her whole sense of self.

She may be a church woman but she’s no church mouse. Church mice are meek and quiet and there is NOTHING meek or quiet about Tammy Faye. She’s a particularly tiny woman but she’s very loud. She has a booming voice that has sunshine all over it but she naturally talks loudly not realizing it. You can see early on when she meets all the old fat white Christian male executives so loud and cheery that she’s not at all who they had in mind but they go along with her because they know she’ll make them millions.

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye tells a true story about a woman who caused an uproar but her ability to keep on walking when the cement in the streets starts to melt is what the film is all about. It’s who Tammy seems to have been and I trust Chastain’s vision all the way.

Image credit: Markowitz, M. (2022). The Eyes Of Tammy Faye Movie Review. The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from

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