Review - My Scientology Movie
Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie captures the spirit of his earlier Weird Weekends documentaries in entertainment value, but perhaps with a glass-half-empty approach when it comes to informing the audience about what Scientology actually is.
Perhaps this was inevitable given the trouble Louis was going to have finding sources; and though he does reign in some high-profile defects (including one self-proclaimed "badass" through which tensions do arise) once the laughs fade and the movie comes to a close one can't help feeling a little unsatisfied.
The tone of the movie wavers from the outset, making it unclear if we are watching a documentary or pure satire. Boardwalk Empire actress Paz de la Huerta literally stumbles midway into an interview wearing nothing but a bikini in a scene Louis denies was staged, and the casting for actors to role-play prominent Scientologists David Miscavige (the leader of the Church) and Tom Cruise is initially brain-tickling.
Though some scenes are powerful and feature Louis at his best, these are few and far between. Such scenes involve exploited or harassed ex-members of the Church struggling to adapt to life on the outside while giving the audience a real impression of the soft power (or physical power if the allegations against Miscavige are to be believed) that can manifest in the groupthink of a cult. These are doors Louis teases open, without ever quite walking through.
These factors make My Scientology Movie hard to place. Is it supposed to be a documentary or a movie? It certainly has the entertainment and comedic value, but for every moment spent chasing laughs there was a price it seems, to the real purpose of the film.