My Scientology Movie is an entertaining but average documentary that fails to shed any new light on the weird and wacky world of Scientology.
Louis Theroux’s been fascinated with the odd quasi-spiritual, semi-scientific ‘religion’ of Scientology for years but this doc marks the first time he’s ever really engaged with the topic on screen.
From the moment Louis explained his dream to make a positive documentary focusing on Scientology, I was excited – so it’s with some disappointment I admit that My Scientology Movie is bang average.
My Scientology Movie stumbles where most ‘balanced’ reports of Scientologists stumble, in that it doesn’t have any interviews with present Scientologists.
This makes the entire piece feel very one-sided and although it’s not Louis’ fault – the church infamously refuse to interact with journalists – it tars the film with the same tired bias we’ve seen a lot before.
It’s a shame because the film tries to do something novel, adding ‘reenactments’ of ex-Scientologists’ memories, but ultimately it feels like filler adding no new dimension to the debate.
Further complicating matters are the doc’s contributors – specifically Mark Rathburn, a renowned and exiled Scientologist (who in his own words was ‘the number one bad-ass’), who seems to be holding back.
It doesn’t ruin the film but it definitely robs it of any weight. Thankfully, the film does have one thing going for it – Louis Theroux.
Theroux, who should serve as an inspiration to journalists everywhere, manages to remain hilariously unflappable in the face of real danger, as he constantly badgers the church with hysterical zeal.
One standout scene is when a group of Scientologists confront Louis over whether a road is public or not. Despite his companion being scared, Louis remains unfazed and begins to tell them about his permit.
Theroux’s attitude lends the film a great sense of levity which makes it entertaining but again contributes to the film’s problems.
Overall, My Scientology Movie feels like a noble attempt to get to the heart of Scientology but ultimately fails to even scratch the surface.
More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism.
Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV.
He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.