The Eyes of Tammy Faye

My Favourite Films of 2021

Another odd year in terms of film releases. In the UK cinemas were shut until around May and what makes up my top ten of the year are a combination of streaming releases, films I saw at film festivals, and ones that were released in the cinema. These are in no particular order but they are all films that I thoroughly enjoyed for various reasons – some made me happy, some made me sad, and some made me feel both happy and sad during their runtime.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
I did not know what to expect going into Shang-Chi but I had a total blast with it – in fact, it’s the only film I saw more than once in the cinema and I rewatched it at home over Christmas and enjoyed it even more. The characters and their relationships stay at the heart of everything, even when things get a bit CGI-heavy in the final act.

Moxie
I read and loved the book years ago and thought this was a great adaptation. The young cast were great and though the feminist themes are as heavy as a sledgehammer I thought managed to cover intersectional feminism in a fun but understandable way for teens.

Spider-Man: No Way Home
This was so full of nostalgia and I absolutely loved it. Still haven’t managed to see No Way Home again but I really want to as that was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in the cinemas in ages.

Everything in the End
An end of the world film full of melancholy and human connection and it just worked so well. it especially resonated now after what I’ve experienced during a pandemic.

F9
Was the latest Fast and Furious film the most over the top and ridiculous yet? Yes. Did I enjoy every second of it? Also, yes. I love this franchise and the latest instalment was everything I loved about it cranked up to 11. The villain was lacking a bit but I loved Han coming back and his pseudo-daughter and how Mia returned too.

Boss Level
I’ll watch pretty much anything Frank Grillo is in and Boss Level was great. It’s fun, innovative, interesting and just pure entertaining. I enjoyed how you learn the rules of this world pretty quick but there’s still things for you to figure out.

Beyto
I absolutely fell in love with this film and its three main characters. It’s about Beyto, the only son of a Turkish migrant family who falls in love with his swimming coach Mike. When his parents find out they plan to marry him to his childhood best friend Seher in order to solve the perceived problem. This unlikely love triangle is so sad but hopeful at the same time and I loved all three of them and it’s one of those films that when it ended, I’d love to see what the three of them are up to in a few years’ time.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye
This isn’t released till February here in the UK but I got to see it at a film festival and had such a great time with it. I didn’t know the people and events it was based on but I loved both Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield’s performances.

Tick, Tick… Boom!
Andrew Garfield really had a great year. I have not seen RENT (movie or stag version) nor is my musical theatre knowledge that great so I knew next to nothing about Jonathan Larson before watching Tick, Tick… Boom! Turns out I loved the songs and the story and how relatable it was. It’s funny and sad but hopeful and yeah, Andrew Garfield was fantastic and has a wonderful voice.

The Rescue
One of the last films I watched in 2021 and it was a great choice to round out the year. incredibly gripping and interesting documentary about how the boys football team was rescued from the caves in Thailand. The reconstructions were so well done and how it showed how the help came from the most unexpected places shows how people are good actually.

What were some of your favourite films you saw last year?

REVIEW: The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

In the 1970s and ‘80s, Tammy Faye Bakker (Jessica Chastain) and her husband Jim (Andrew Garfield), rise from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park. However, financial improprieties, scheming rivals and a scandal soon threaten to topple their carefully constructed empire.

Personally, I had never heard of evangelicals Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker before hearing about this film. It is about people and events that were before my time and I’m pretty sure we didn’t have any kind of religious broadcasting channels here in the UK – personally my family didn’t get Sky and therefore more than the standard four channels until I was about fourteen and that was in the mid-2000s. But I like Jessica Chastain a lot and got the chance to see The Eyes of Tammy Faye at a local film festival months before it’s released in the UK so thought why not.

I’m very glad I gave this film ago. It is a bit unsure at times whether it wants to be a standard biopic or lean into the over-the-top almost satire of these people’s situation but Chastain’s performance guides you through any shaky moments. It also works best when it leans into the absurdity.

The costumes are stunning and are so very ‘80s and it’s hard not to get swept up in the glamour of it all. The religious songs Chastain sings are also super catchy as well and the whole package that Tammy Faye presents to their audience is bold and energetic. How this then contrasts to her at home, when she feels neglected by her husband makes events even more affecting.

Truly Chastain is fantastic in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Often, she’s unrecognisable thanks to the hair, makeup and prosthetic work she has going on but equally her performance is stunning too. Over the course of the film, she goes from being bubbly and full of life to disconnected and close to depressed as all her hopes and dreams come crashing down around her. She plays all the aspects of Tammy’s personality so well and it’s kind of sad sometimes because Tammy appears to be a woman who loves people, loves God, and to her detriment, loves her husband. She is full of love and is far more accepting than any other evangelical preacher seen in The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Vincent D’Onofrio plays Pastor Jerry Falwell who is the most pious of the religious figures that surround her.

While Chastain and Garfield are both great, Cherry Jones who plays Tammy’s mother Rachel steals just about every scene she’s in. Her scathing line delivery is hilarious and her presence is felt even when she’s not on screen. She’s the one person Tammy wants to impress and be proud of her, while Rachel is more suspicious of her daughter and son-in-law’s careers. Rachel is a religious woman but doesn’t see how people sending their money to the network is something God would condone.

Honestly Andrew Garfield is great as the weaselly Jim Bakker. He can be both cruel and charismatic and as the viewer you can see the things that Tammy is oblivious to and how while she did things with often the best intentions, he did them to further his life. Like honestly, the man was awful and both Garfield and Chastain did such good jobs in their roles that I was mad at him for hurting her – even though if she’d been a little more present in the running of the network, she wouldn’t have been so blindsided by her husband’s lies.

Speaking of Garfield, at the beginning in the 1960s when Jim and Tammy meet at college there is some weirdness going on with Andrew Garfield’s face. I’m not sure if it is the de-aging CGI that we’re often seeing in films nowadays, the makeup or a combination of the two but I’ve never seen a man with such a smooth face. He looked like a Ken doll in those scenes. Once the narrative had moved on so he was playing a Jim that was closer to his age (Garfield is 38) this stopped and he looked a lot more normal.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a funny and at times almost surreal biopic. The performances are all fantastic and it’s hard not to feel sympathy for Tammy Faye as it really does seem like she was an enthusiastic and caring woman. But, due to her trusting nature and her faith she was easily led and betrayed. 4/5.