Having spent time with famous kooks and tackled grounded and sombre issues such as alcohol and drug addiction, Louis Theroux spends a year investigating a religion established in the 20th Century by a famous Science Fiction author.
Definitely nowhere near as insightful as Alex Gibney’s Going Clear. This is fairly standard stuff for Theroux as it appears to be filled with baiting, skits and pre-planned chaos. As with Michael Moore’s work, you know what you’re letting yourself in for, and as entertaining as these documentaries are, I get frustrated that Theroux and his team only skim the surface of the church, the faith and its followers.
We briefly witness the mania and zealous nature of the Scientologists but all of the acted portions add nothing to inform or educate. These re-enactments show a warped and skewed insight into the church and its practices as there appears to be very little policing, directing and coaching of how these events supposedly took place. It’s within the moments when Louis and his team aren’t provoking and manipulating when the Scientologists manage to highlight their own mania. Scare tactics, feverish and relentless hounding and an imposing demeanour all in the name of “protecting” their faith come across as quirky at best, extremist at worst.
While it’s always fun to watch Louis do his shtick I feel it’s going to take a Nick Broomfield or Amy Berg to really dig up some dirt on this peculiar and secretive organisation. There’s far too much of Theroux’s trademark character, Mr. Magoo’ing into a situation, being played for laughs when in actual fact the darker edge to this feature is barely explored. The theatrics and “Englishman in a Foreign Land” persona make light of what should be viewed as seriously as his documentaries on drug and alcohol abuse. We barely skim through the history to provide context for where the Church of Scientology is today. Instead we tread water with a puff piece that offers up nothing we haven’t previously seen in more accomplished documentaries on this troubling subject matter.
My Scientology Movie will be available on general release soon and is now available to rent and buy on.
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