Tammy (Jessica Chastain) is an idealistic young Christian with big, new ideas about how to serve the faithful. She finds her match in Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield), and together the pair build a massive televangelist career – but their foundations are more shaky than they appear.
There’s a lot to be said for the extraordinary world of televangelism, and this biopic of Tammy Faye Bakker, one of its leading figures in the 1970s and 1980s, goes some way to interrogating the glitz, the glitz and the grungy reality behind the ministry. If it can’t quite get into the shoes of the woman herself, it does at least capture the bizarre role Bakker played in popular Christianity and the unlikely arc of her career.
Tammy (Jessica Chastain, in an array of increasingly elaborate wigs and prosthetics) is a bubbly young idealist when she meets Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield, tough as ever) at Bible College. The couple impulsively marry, which gets them kicked out of college and becomes traveling preachers. Soon they are rising through the ranks of tele-evangelism through strokes of luck and, of course, God’s plan for them as they see it. But as the scale of their operations expands and Jim begins to take financial shortcuts, their empire is in jeopardy.
It’s beautifully done, but I can’t quite explain where his endless optimism comes from and why we should encourage his recovery.
This is based on the 2000 documentary of the same name by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, and both films delve into Tammy’s country side and larger-than-life personality. She did some laudable things – she was a rare televangelist who actively embraced the LGBT+ community and reached out to AIDS patients at the height of this epidemic – but she also willingly turned a blind eye to her husband’s corruption. moved away and, in this narrative, helped him in winning over investors.
Chastain does her best to show Tammy’s warm heart, her far-reaching contributions to the movement, and her growing agony over her husband’s failures, but the woman is still essentially scamming the public so she can dress in fur, and the film doesn’t hold up. never really consider his own guilt. . It’s nicely done – director Michael Showalter effectively warms up the gold and red palette as Tammy and Jim get to work recomposing the color after their disgrace – but can’t quite explain where his optimism comes from. endlessly and why we should applaud his recovery from a bad marriage and public disgrace.
It’s an impressive performance from Chastain and fascinating subject matter, but the film doesn’t dive deep enough into Bakker’s inner life.