Tag Archives: Evangelism

Film Review: The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) and Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield) discover each other in the college and find the ultimate purpose to live together – spreading the message of God. With time, they become one of America’s biggest showrunners in the history of evangelical television shows. But with immense success comes challenges and personal conflicts that jeopardize their holy rank as America’s most influential and beloved televangelists.

Faye and Bakker led two of the biggest and most popular evangelical television shows, The PTL Club and The 700 Club. The Eyes of Tammy Faye is mostly based on the 2000 documentary with the same name. Most of the sources have been taken from this documentary.

Based on the true story and events, the film guarantees higher historical accuracy. Most of the thick points in the film are correct like Tammy Faye’s permanent makeup, her affair with the record producer Gary Paxton, her segment on penile implants, and interviewing AIDS activist Steve Pieters, etc.

The intensity is built in the middle of the film when Tammy and Jim suffer personal conflicts. I think during all the crises that begin to occur in the middle, the director missed dramatizing Jim Bakker’s affair that shattered their lives and reputation. That was a very critical incident and deserved minutes. The angle of the story bending towards their crisis should have been directed towards the affair.

More than the film’s entire making, average direction, and not-so-tightly-gripped screenwriting, the film earns respect from the audience through spectacular performances by the leading actors, Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield. Also, I must not forget to mention the film’s significant plus in brilliant makeup and hairstyling. I have read about Jessica’s makeup that it was prepared to clock around five hours along with prosthetics.

Garfield is in superb form but Jessica recently went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress for this role. She deserves it and I must say that it was really a tough call between her, Kristen, and Kidman for the roles they were nominated for. All the three ladies gave extraordinary performances. But I think Jessica may have won this contest for her incredible performance under very heavy makeup and she also sang some numbers herself. Plus, her portrayal was so spot on. You can clearly listen to the voice of Tammy Faye coming from Jessica’s mouth. If you observe Faye’s real videos on YouTube especially conducting an interview with Steve, you will realize that Jessica gave a very splendid performance.

The winner of two Academy Awards, The Eyes of Tammy Faye is an average drama that should only be watched to see Jessica and Garfield.

Ratings: 6.5/10

Film Review: Elmer Gantry (1960)

A mounteback named Elmer Gantry is a traveling salesman who has a magnetic personality and looks for an opportunity to make money by sweet talks, and by permeating the words of the Bible in his passionate speeches. One day, he finds a purpose in life when he spectates an evangelist Sister Sharon Falconer and joins her organization.

Elmer Gantry is an American film produced in 1960 and was adapted from Sinclair Lewis‘s famous novel with the same title. By the time, the novel was published and released, the book received uproar and was widely criticized for writing out some bold details about the religious business and revivalism that happened in the United States a century ago. It was a satirical novel that gave the readers some idea of manipulating the staunch loyalist members of the evangelistic church and raising the money for the business.

The same case is with the film that sparks a lot of attention in the eyebrow-raising dialogues; especially when Elmer and Sister meet the other church leaders. The film takes quite a liberty to expose the concept of Revivalism. The way the organization is depicted functioning and the church leaders are portrayed concerning the religious affairs to cash their personal gains ridicules the traditional beliefs and practices of organized Christianity. Director Richard Brooks dared to touch the subject but the productional aesthetics are so sharp that the portrayal of selling religion in America is on the razor edge for the audience. Gantry and Sister Sharon are the messiahs of this cult for the White Americans. Observe a short church scene at the start where the African-Americans sang a hymn, their method distinguishes and Elmer, despite all the religious dedication to singing along with them, chooses to move on and look for a better market.

Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry is a blessing to the eyes of the audience. A role of a lifetime, a performance that occurs rarely in a generation. I felt that Burt and Elmer were to admire each other’s work and someone had a mission to unite them on a platform. From the beginning until the end, Burt mesmerized me and surely most of the viewers with his incredible performance. His pitch, his sermon, his body language, everything was just incredible. A lively and charming characterization of Gantry was made possible by Burt and I hardly believe anyone from that era would have nailed this role. I think of Gregory Peck but he would have looked too rich for Gantry. I think Anthony Quinn or Kirk Douglas would have pulled a performance if Burt was not given this role. Burt’s performance meets variations with time. When Gantry meets criticism after being caught in the scandal, he is shamed in the hall by limited angry spectators. They throw eggs and vegetables on him and he is mute and lost allowing them to throw their rage on him. What a magnificent shot that was when the trumpeter plays on his face and back, as he walks away in shame and people keep throwing the mess on him.

Elmer Gantry was not only enviable due to Burt’s phenomenal performance but also due to the superb assistance of the supporting performances of Jean Simmons as Sister Sharon and Shirley Jones as Lulu Bains.

If this film is remade, I would want Paul Thomas Anderson to direct with any of Joaquin Phoenix or Oscar Isaac being considered to play Elmer Gantry, Rooney Mara as Sister Sharon (plus she resembles Jean Simmons a lot), and Anya Taylor-Joy as Lulu.

The film is the winner of three Academy Awards that includes a deserving Oscar for Burt as the Best Actor. I think Elmer Gantry is one of the earliest pinnacles of portraying the deception of being some false messiah or a prophet. The quality of depicting hypocrisy, the corrupted hearts of showrunners, people being foolish, and some being gold-diggers is very well dramatized. Elmer Gantry is quite a cinematic example of compromising faith by applying materialism in the obscure art of selling religion.

Ratings: 8.4/10