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Review - My Scientology Movie

By midlandsmovies, Oct 9 2016 09:37PM

My Scientology Movie (2016) Dir. John Dower


After Alex Gibney’s ‘Going Clear’ from 2015 which was my favourite documentary last year, comes another film about the mysterious cult of Scientology. This time, bumbling documentary ‘personality’ Louis Theroux takes his seemingly-innocent persona to California to try to get into their weird and extreme world of self improvement and intimidation.


Like Michael Moore’s documentary from earlier in 2016, Louis takes the lone crusader route by putting his own personality up front and sadly, like Moore too, this is very similar fare to their previous offerings. The topic is compelling as always and it explores thought control and the mystifying aspects of the quasi-religion but it’s essentially the same shtick, style-wise, as every other film he's made.


What is different to Gibney is Theroux’s structure which sees the filmmaker auditioning L.A. actors to recreate dramatic incidents from Scientology’s past. As expected, Scientologists begin to pounce upon the project and start investigating, following and filming Louis and his team as he tries to uncover the shady practices of the group who are labelled (from one ex-member) as “a crock of shit”. One of the best scenes shows Louis getting comically accused of “harassment” when he is being filmed by two unknown people. The irony completely lost on them.


From extra-sensory abilities to Thetan levels, I don’t say lightly that it rightly pours scorn on the absolute tosh spouted by the group of self-centred, power hungry losers whose leaders use threats to keep worshippers in line. Considering it was invented recently – during my own father’s life – how anyone can follow such modern propaganda is frankly unbelievable. But when has that stopped anyone from joining a religion whether it is 50 or 3000 years old? Brainwashing has no time constraints.


My personal predilections aside, Theroux’s amiable and sometimes gormless (heavily acted by himself I believe) makes for entertaining viewing. However, for me, he’s sadly just missed the boat with Gibney’s documentary dissecting the same issues already. Louis even does the audition process alongside former member Mark Rathbun who appears at the end of Gibney’s documentary. With that in mind, it could be seen as somewhat of a follow-on sequel, albeit one that retreads identifcal themes.


Anyone with a passing interest in either Theroux’s previous documentaries (and the style he maintains) or the mysteries and practices of this ‘church’ will definitely find entertainment in this film. However, despite its honourable intentions, it covers so much old ground that if you’ve seen Gibney’s analysis then you may want to steer clear.


7/10


Midlands Movies Mike

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