Words by Jo McTavish
Director: John Dower
Screenplay: John Dower
Stars: Rob Alter, Tom Cruise, Paz de la Huerta
Story: Louis documents his investigation into what goes on behind the scenes of the infamous church of Scientology.
THE Church of Scientology is one of the most controversial religions of the 21st Century, and for many it is consider more of a cult. Although by keeping an open mind, it can be a very interesting discovery and after countless months of learning about the Church, I found myself so validated thanks to Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie.
Over the last decade a variety of documentaries and books have tried to delve into the world of Scientology, and the most famous to date was Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015). Every one of them included ex-members of the Church, with the most prominent critic Mark Rathbun who was considered elite within the Church’s hierarchy being heavily featured among most.
Compared to the other filmmakers, British documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux and director John Dower bring a refreshing tone to the complicated saga of explanation to the forever going confusion of this religion. After the Church of Scientology refused to cooperate with Louis Theroux, Mark Rathburn comes in to recreate witnessed incidents within the church, and with the help of other ex-Scientologists and real life actors they bring to life some of the church’s leader David Miscrave’s alleged bizarre and violent behaviour.
At times the film polarises on the church’s outlandish behaviour that former members all seem to claim are true, but on the other hand it carries a momentum of laugh out loud moments, that almost makes the church seem like a laughing stock. Louis Theroux approaches this with care, as he is not going out there to make a joke of the Church; in fact, all he wants to do is understand it (just like the majority of the world).
Utilising the expertise of Mark Rathbun, Louis Theroux captures some of the alleged chilling moments that have occurred around David Miscrave. This technique was unique compared to a straight forward talk about it situation, but what I found more interesting was the recorded behaviour of the Church’s members interfering with the production, it was just like a scene in an awfully good sci-fi film.
Their reasons to keep everything a secret at times can come across as perfect, as they appear out of nowhere acting like emotionless beings. In a way it validates their purpose in doing so, because if I had followers acting like this I would want to keep them hidden in a hole too. Although any religion that was being talked about in a somewhat controversial way would want to protect themselves.
Outside of the general context of trying to understand the Church of Scientology, I thoroughly enjoyed the pace and delivery. At only 99 minutes it moves quiet quickly, yet still covers enough for you to be less confused about by L. Ron Hubbard’s way of life. Then there is the mixture of past members speaking out about their time within the Church and what life now brings them. It really does not paint a very happy picture for anyone who might want to join, but I will leave that up to you to decide.
This is all I can solidly say without being a bore or revealing too much. I think just like any religion, there is a beginning and unfortunately for The Church of Scientology it happens to be very young, so of course we will question everything about it.
To try and understand it, you can explore the internet for days and hurt your brain but if you want a good starting point, with a forward thinking point of view and a good laugh then please see the work of Louis Theroux as it will provide you with a proper entree into… (to be continued).
Watch the official trailer: