BBC journalist Louis Theroux joins forces with director John Dower to explore the elusive Church of Scientology. With the help of a former high-ranking Scientologist, Theroux sets out to understand the furtive goings-on of the Church, armed with his irreverent humor and biting irony.
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If you are gonna show up for MY SCIENTOLOGY MOVIE, show up for the laughs. There is almost nothing else here. And not a lot of those, either. Louis Theroux is dumb, but he knows his dumb face is passingly funny, and I guess that's to his credit. Whatever. But far and away the best thing here is less than a minute of Paz de la Huerta. The protracted psychodrama, on the other hand, is as lame as it is sour.
Dower documents the normative state of paranoia, surveillance, abuse, and fraud in everyday America that is best exemplified by this so-called "religion". I loved the re-enactments of the members' and actors ridiculous claims. Watch Betting on Zero after you're done with this: you'll be surprised - or perhaps not - by the overabundance of analogies between Scientology and Herbalife.
Not entirely sure I understand the purpose of some of the tactics used in this, but I do think this is Louis himself at his best and most courageous. As far as a being a informative documentary about Scientology, it fails, but as a documentary about the mental assault and brainwashing of a cult, it succeeds. If nothing else, this is a scary film about the consequences of making a documentary about Scientology.
While it was shocking and cringe inducing, I didn't learn anything new from this, and it seemed more of a mockery of the church than anything- which is fine by me of course. I just thought it was a bit of a pointless documentary. Louis is always so great though, love him.
Unlike Theroux's previous works, this documentary is a unfocused mess. Between awkward car rides with scientology detractors and purposeless reenactments of past events, we learn nothing new about this cult.
He takes an interesting approach to the material, but it seems like the re-enacting stuff was more of an afterthought. I got the vibe he wanted to make Going Clear, but ask harder questions towards those who left the church, in respect to all the Scientologists who are good, Xenu-fearing citizens. But that doesn't go all the way it could. That said, fuck Scientology.
Theroux fails to say much new or interesting about the CoS due to a too narrow focus. The over-reliance on his few defector subjects and manufactured drama distracts from a larger picture that deserves more focus. Disappointing from one of our greatest documentary filmmakers.
Fun and diverting to a point, but completely unfocused. We don't really learn anything about the belief system of this cult as the film plays on the intimidation suffered by the members who have left, which I am sure Theroux has covered before....