Unless you are from the South, and born within a certain time frame, there’s a chance you aren’t even familiar of the legend of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, televangelists who came to prominence in the 1970s and ‘80s by bilking their gullible followers into funding their religious empire, only to see the house of cards they constructed collapse down on them, leading to jail time. A movie about their spectacular ascent and messy tumble seemed inevitable, but who would be able to capture the artificial look that Tammy Faye Bakker became incredible popular for?
As you can tell from the trailer above, Jim and Tammy Faye came together over a shared passion for religion, though even the vibe being shared by Tammy Faye’s mother shows that her daughter has been duped into going above and beyond in the name of the Lord before, probably with uneven results. But once paired with Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield), Tammy Faye finally figures out how to connect with needy souls who seek their specialized brand of guidance… so long as they are willing to pay big bucks to receive it.
The trailer for the upcoming film The Eyes of Tammy Faye makes it looks like the bulk of the film will cover the couple’s construction of The PTL Club, a television program they hosted out of my own backyard of Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a religious talk show, one that relied heavily on the donations sent in by loyal audience members. (PTL, around here, earned the nickname “Pass the Loot,” as Jim Bakker often found himself under investigation for fraud and sex scandals, which eventually caught up with him.)
All of that will be explored as we inch closer to this film’s September release. Right now, the conversation seems to be focused on, “Wait, is that really Jessica Chastain?” I’ve heard some critique the makeup in the trailer as being over-the-top and grotesque. To them I reply, “Have you ever looked up a photograph of the real Tammy Faye?” Her appearance kept her on the cover of tabloid newspapers and in the monologues of late-night talk show hosts for years. I think Chastain looks spot on.
That September 17 release date indicates to me that Fox Searchlight will be bringing The Eyes of Tammy Faye on the fall film festival circuit, testing to see if it has Awards Legs. Keep it here for more coverage on this film, as well as the other features we anticipate making it into the annual Oscar race.