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.
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.
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.
I did not know anything about scientilogy so I found this documentary informative. I liked Louis Theroux's approach, always positive and nice but at the same time persistent and incisive. Not sure about the re-enactment of some past scientilogy events but now I know the stress test machines used by the scientologists are actually lie detectors.
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.
Louis Theroux uses his own mental games here, and it ends up feeling like a very long, very lame Daily Show sketch. Devoid of direction, he goes from acting like Werner Herzog to acting like a skirmish rabbit at whim. Ultimately, all potential is wasted. 'Going Clear' looks like 'Citizen Kane' in comparison.
Sadly, this is more of a character study on Mark Rathbun than a documentary on Scientology. While it's still interesting and entertaining, Gibney's "Going Clear" and the two BBC Documentaries by Sweeney provide more insight into the belief system and inner workings of the church.
The moment when Louis is literally pulled into the casting scenes featuring actors trying to recreate David Miscavige's aggressive demeanor complete with physical and verbal abuse for what seems to be Marty's own private masturbatory enjoyment truly made the film worth watching although I really learned nothing new about this cult.