My Scientology Movie review – Louis Theroux gets smart with the cult church - 2016-10-06
The Church of Scientology is a deeply strange organisation and, appropriately enough, Louis Theroux has made a strange film about it. It works as a companion piece to another documentary, the one that I think is the definitive takedown: Alex Gibney's Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, from 2015. It's an interesting, if flawed piece of work; Theroux's opaque manner masks an uncertainty as to exactly what he wants to say, and he finally seems to turn on his own chief witness.
Theroux's Scientology movie is undoubtedly a smart piece of what could be called improv-ocation. He shows up in LA, advertising his intention to film a series of scripted and unscripted scenes recreating key moments from the life of the Scientologists' sinister chief, David Miscavige. (Theroux may here have been inspired by Josh Oppenheimer's modern-classic documentary about the Indonesian tyranny, The Act of Killing.) He will audition actors, film the audition process, and use as his adviser a famous apostate and whistleblower, former Scientologist enforcer Marty Rathbun – a man now hated in the church for his betrayal.