From Neo-Nazis and the KKK, to swingers and born again Christians, it seems as though Louis Theroux has covered all bases. This time around, he exposes us to the world of Scientology – or does he?
It’s not surprising to discover that David Miscavige and his band of Sea Horses wanted nothing to do with Theroux and his movie; why would they? So Theroux takes the unique approach of auditioning various no name actors to play them both, as well as countless others that make up the crazy world of Scientology that we feel we know so much yet so little about.
Theroux however does land interviews with some ex-Scientologists, including Marty Rathbun, a former senior executive of the Church and now public enemy number one in the eyes of the believers. Rathbun is guiding Theroux throughout the audition and movie making process, coaching the actors to be as crazy and brainwashed as possible, his insider details equally shocking yet believable.
Disappointingly, Theroux goes quite easy on Rathbun which almost begs the question of why are we here in the first place? What good is having Rathburn on board if he’s not willing to answer the most basic of questions? Towards the end of the film, after some fierce antagonism from currently Scientologists, Theroux brings up how Rathbun was once upon a time, precisely that person – but even this is too much and we see an A-grade tantrum from the former high flyer.
It’s unfortunate that My Scientology Movie is coming out in the same year as Alex Gibney’s Going Clear, as there will inevitably be comparisons, and Theroux’s just really isn’t up to scratch. Of course it’s funny; Theroux is a funny guy. Is it hard hitting? Not so much. You’ll get a few laughs, but you won’t really come away any wiser.
Chloe Sesta Jacobs is a people and culture geek who loves writing about film and usually does so with her two miniature sausage dogs lying all over her. Chloe really enjoys world cinema and has been heard to say “if it doesn’t have subtitles, don’t talk to me”. She also tweets a LOT at @csestajacobs.