Not only Tammy Faye’s eyes Assume your familiarity with innovative fraudulent televangelists Tammy Faye Messner and Jim Bakker, this assumes your loathing for the former and the reasons for it. She was a much mocked pop culture cartoon in her day (even appearing as a recurring anthropomorphic anxiety in Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County strip), whose garish, country exterior – and the fact that she was female – made her an even easier target than the rest of her peers. The opening on Jessica Chastain’s make-up face in a very close-up brings the premise of the film home: the reassurance that there is more below the surface. And yet, the realization is only on edge, especially if we compare it to the 2000 documentary of the same name that he adapted. 21 years later, director Michael Showalter introduces us to Tammy Faye as a tragic figure in an sometimes berated, sometimes sarcastic biopic, which only partially respects its subject matter and, aside from Chastain’s determined efforts, comes across as an easy story of scandal. , sex and sell, sell, sell.

Rightly for The PTL Clubloyal hosts of, the film’s biopic structure sometimes resembles that of a Scorsese-style gangster flick: the main actors are introduced in freeze-frame as drug issues grow and worsen, relationships grow. tend and that institutional retaliation is slowly closing in If only he had that kind of energy. Instead, he goes through the motions with little for the eyes other than a pastel palette. We see the main couple meet, fall in love, start their puppet and chair road show and become so successful that they create a Jesusy theme park. Above all, avoiding the evils of his time – Vincent D’Onofrio’s imposing Jerry Falwell only briefly mentioning his new GOP sponsorship; homophobia as a signifier rather than a deadly reality—Tammy Faye’s eyesThe real bad guys are those who don’t treat Tammy Faye and her endless, pure Christian love. This love actually produces a tangible good in the movie’s most powerful scene, where Tammy Faye interviews a gay man with AIDS on his show despite the prejudices of men in his hyper-religious circle, and that’s what the movie hope.

This is the real Tammy Faye, he tells us, an LGBTQ icon whose drag queen character and rare compassion for her beliefs trump… all other stuff. The ultra-80s link between religious devotion and financial success, ready to sell saved souls for a monthly fee. The empowerment of American political right to use and abuse Christianity.

The film’s surface feminism, asking why Tammy Faye was always the butt of the jokes, gives way to something perhaps just as sinister: a wholesale ignorance claim, where the cheerful performer was put to use all the while. as deep as those who are listening.It’s an upside down attempt at a piece of puff, spiking all the more sharply with jokes that aren’t all that different from what talk show hosts and comedians sketch have leveled at the time. When you try to establish a cohesive ideology in the film, you find it disintegrating before your very eyes, summed up by the decrepit ichthys sticker on Tammy’s post-Jim sedan.

Navigating all of this is a performance by Chastain that is always very intriguing, and a not insignificant part of it is the simple spectacle of watching her manipulate her levels of Uruk-hai makeup and prosthetics. It’s striking visual work by the artists (which doesn’t extend elsewhere, as Tammy Faye’s parents look exactly alike over the decades of the film) and heavy physical play from Chastain – of which the squeaky vocal alteration is a compliment rather than a distraction – in service of a questionable retcon. But the star is still capable of generating pathos, despite Showalter’s exaggerated staging of incidents designed to show us that she feels lost, betrayed, or downright horny. Marked by the demonic and infuriating laughter of Tickle Me Elmo resonatingly summing up the fallacy of the televangelist movement, Chastain’s performance is eerily familiar and sometimes striking in its sweetest moments. When he slams a private Diet Coke or fucks a sexy guitarist, Chastain finds complexity in the infantilized facade. She has been shown time and again as an instigating sexual force, representative of personal desires and the professional agency denied her by historical perception. It creates fascinating moments for Chastain and conflicting moments for what the film is actually trying to say about its main character.

Combine that with the fact that, outside of Chastain, the performances are as slim as the characters – especially Andrew Garfield’s Jim, whose role is just to cry and apologize from Genesis 1: 1 onwards. – and the boring parable just doesn’t deserve it. efforts. Tammy Faye’s eyesThe attempt to explain a misunderstood public figure is mired in a confused tone that is distracted by the same marketing and mockery that she aims to criticize. The weary and laborious story follows the curve of the arc of redemption, even losing confidence in itself along the way.

Director: Michael showalter
Writer: Abe Sylvie
With : Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio
Release date: September 17, 2021

Jacob Oller is Film Editor at Paste Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at @jacoboller.

For all the latest movie news, reviews, lists, and features, follow @PasteMovies.


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