I just finished watching My Scientology Movie by Louis Theroux and BBC Films. Unfortunately I was unable to get tickets when it was here at Hot Docs this year so I was really looking forward to seeing it.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Louis, I think he has a fascinating technique and he has made a number of films which I have found incredibly compelling. But I also find some of his work a bit contrived and there are occasions where I’ve felt that he’s soft peddled a situation. But I’m probably being unfair…
For whatever mistakes I may have felt he’s made in the past, he’s taken a very unconventional approach, and in doing so he manages to bait the “Church” into helping him make an even more damning film then he would ever have created if they had simply co-operated.
To quote Louis himself in the film:
They are behaving in a way that is so obviously pathological — you would think they would realize that other people would see that and think this is a religion of lunatics.
The film has some absurd moments, but it’s fairly unflinching in dealing with the subject matter and he does a much better job at holding Marty Rathburn, the film’s primary antagonist, accountable for his past as a leader of Scientology than some other recent accounts of Scientology have. The film is definitely worth the price of admission and Theroux does a wonderful job.
Here’s an interesting interview, or perhaps it would be better described as a discussion, with Theroux and Rinke Verkerk (who herself reported undercover on Scientology) about why he made the film and some of the challenges he faced.