Following a long fascination with the religion, and with a lot of experience dealing with eccentric human behaviour, incomparable British broadcaster Louis Theroux won’t take no for an answer when his request to enter the Church of Scientology’s Los Angeles headquarters is turned down. Theroux’s insatiable curiosity motivates him to understand what life inside the Church is really like, and with the aid of former second-in-command at the Church, Mark ‘Marty’ Rathbun, he uses actors to replay incidents people claim they experienced with high-profile members such as Tom Cruise and leader David Miscavige. Suffused with a good dose of humour and moments worthy of a Hollywood script, LOUIS THEROUX: MY SCIENTOLOGY MOVIE proves that what people do in the name of religion can be truly stranger than fiction.
If you’re hoping for new insights and revelations into Scientology, and you’ve seen Alex Gibney’s masterful documentary GOING CLEAR or read a couple good books on the subject, you’ll be disappointed.
What’s on offer here is a focus on high-profile defector Marty Rathbun, for years head Scientologist David Miscavige’s muscle, the hatchet man. Another top defector tells Theroux that Rathbun was feared, not well-liked, and knows where the bodies are buried. One wishes Theroux presented some of that.
One also wonders what Rathbun has found to take the place of Scientology in his life, or why top defectors, in for fifteen, twenty, thirty years, finally snap and walk away from the only life they know. Theroux chooses not to explore that, concentrating instead on the process of auditioning actors to recreate certain practices and alleged incidents of violence or mind control and the spectral, creepy Miscavige. The real story is Rathbun’s guiding the actors in the re-enactments, and his increasing discomfort with questions about his own actions as Scientology’s head bully.
It’s an odd tack to take, but as Scientology refused to allow Theroux access, it’s probably the most worthwhile project Theroux could deliver, and it succeeds well on that count.
MY SCIENTOLOGY MOVIE serves mostly to show how those who try to make a movie about Scientology are endlessly harassed by the paranoid organization. Worthwhile viewing for those with a fairly strong interest in the cult.
Releases: 13th October 2016 for one week in Cinemas then on DVD
Duration: 99 minutes
Starring: Rob Alter, Tom Cruise, Paz de la Huerta
Director: John Dower (Thrilla in Manilla)
Theroux twice interviewed members of the Westboro Baptist Church.
Theroux is cousin to Justin Theroux, romantic partner of Jennifer Aniston.
Theroux once auditioned to be a Broadway actor.
Hasn't been giving a release date in Ireland because of Irelands blasphemy laws which states any publication or utterance of blasphemous matter against any religion is an offence and carries a fine of 25,000 euros.an Irish distributor has yet to be confirmed and it's looking likely that none will be. Also Alex Gibney's 2015 Scientology documentary Going Clear had similar problems and did not secure an Irish theatrical release.