The Eyes of Tammy Faye

I once saw Tammy Faye shopping at a home store near me. It was striking to see her in person, to realize the face wasn’t just made for TV. Her trademark permanent makeup, crowded eyelashes, and sweet, steady giggle. She was very real.

Heritage USA is just down the road from where I live. Our kids play soccer in the fields beneath the still standing Heritage tower. Political candidates and other public speakers use one of the buildings for gatherings still today. There is an indoor film stage I’ve worked on for a TV series. But mostly, what was once Heritage USA is gone.

Two things stand out for me in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. First, since this filmed locally, (although not in Fort Mill, SC), I have several friends who are background players. It’s always fun to find people you know on the big screen. Not to mention, the costumes, hair, and makeup are fantastic!

More importantly, Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye is simply outstanding. It’s obvious she studied and learned Tammy’s mannerisms. She captures more than the look; with gentle pauses before speaking, and that empathetic nervous giggle. Even her hopeful eyes dart at the right moment.

The production team did an amazing job on the costumes and makeup – with prosthetics to form the structure of Tammy’s infamous jovial face. They truly went all in on developing this character. Chastain’s instagram has some great BTS shots of the transformation.

Interestingly enough I don’t remember much about Andrew Garfield in this movie – but then I don’t really remember Jim Bakker either. He is there. He also wears a lot of makeup.

Beyond Chastain’s magnetic performance, the story is just kind of – eh. As scandalous as this PTL Network was in real life, this movie left the story on the sidelines. At first I felt the buildup, but it just falls completely flat. It sort of just came through in one tenuous dialogue scene, cut quick to a news conference, and then poof – it was over. The movie just doesn’t carry the weight of emotions that must have surrounded the timeline.

Where the story misses in entertaining, the overall look from the late eighties and early nineties is wonderfully captured in the set, costumes, and hair and makeup. This along with Chastain’s performance is what I’ll remember.

Say hi to my friends when you see them! 😉

Next: Dear Evan Hansen

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