My Scientology Movie

my-scientology-movie-1Scientology is one of the hot button topics that have been covered numerous times on TV and in films. It is always a controversial subject which tends to find the film makers at odds with the subjects at every turn. Although Louis Theroux takes a slightly different approach it pretty much amounts to the same story.

Theroux has stated that he is fascinated by the church and wants to find out more. All the approaches he made in an official respect for interviews and access were outright rejected. With a certain amount of frustration towards the stance of the church he was forced to go to people who are former members and are now regarded almost as enemies. With their help he decides to make a movie about Scientology. To this end, he and his team start to bring a cast together which represents the major players.

There are two distinct phases to this film. At the start, the tone is quite lighthearted. The voice over has comical touches and is delivered in a non sinister way. The music playing under the scenes reinforces the mood. Once we get more into the story, the film becomes darker. The humour is removed and in its place it is replaced by drama and tension. The scenes involving the passive aggressive confrontations with members of the church are frustrating to watch and there is a real undertone of serious threat.

my-scientology-movie-2The film carries the audience through the various techniques used by the church in order to train their members. As an outsider, these seem outrageous and very intimidating. When they are backed up with footage of some of the techniques being used against Theroux himself.

The film does its best to take a fresh look at the activities but it ends up covering most of the same ground that has been successfully done before. It is no wonder that the most prominent member of the church, Tom Cruise, gets a section to himself. They examine a recording he did to promote the church and the intensity and borderline ferocity in his delivery. The film makers use this as an audition piece for the actor who is to play the Cruise role.

The big finish is a recreation of The Hole, a centre that was used to punish and break down any implied dissent among the members of the church. It plays out in a recreation of the actual enviroment and is the most memorable scene with the actor playing church leader David Miscavige really getting into the spirit of the role, coming across like a real monster.

Ultimately the film relies on Theroux to carry the film. His well honed style of asking the right questions without indicating an undertone in his delivery is a joy to watch. He has a real sense of timing and knows just when to dig a little deeper with a follow up question or initiate an awkward silence. Helpful as these traits are, they are used too many times in the 90 minute running time.

Overall, an entertaining and engaging film that really doen’t give the audience anything new on a very controversial subject.

John McArthur
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