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‘My Scientology Movie’ (review)

Produced by Simon Chinn
Written by John Dower, Louis Theroux
Directed by John Dower
Starring Louis Theroux, Mark Rathbun,
Andrew Perez, Rob Alter, Jeff Hawkins,
Tom De Vocht, Marc Headley,
Steve Mango, Catherine Fraser

It struck me, as My Scientology Movie began, how much it reminded me of the opening of a particularly spooky episode of ABC’s Once Upon a Time.

I know that sounds a little nutty, but when you think about how much the “religion” of Scientology reads like a fictional mythology, I swear it makes sense.

The incredulity of the religion/cult is prevalent throughout the film, from filmmaker John Dower and BBC Host Louis Theroux, who put a unique spin on the construction of the documentary, differentiating it from docs like Going Clear or the Leah Remini docuseries on A&E.

What do you do when you can’t go to the mountain?

You bring the mountain to you.

Theroux partners with Marty Rathburn, a former Senior Church of Scientology Exec who last held the post of Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center, the organization that is responsible for the protection and enforcement of all Dianetics and Scientology copyrights and trademarks. Together, without the ability to interview actual figures in the Church, Theroux and Rathburn hold auditions for juicy roles like “David Miscavige” and “Tom Cruise,” allowing them to set up scenarios taken right out of Rathburn’s experiences.

Sometimes it seems overly complicated but when in its best moments, the methodology brings an extremely intensity to their storytelling.

Oftentimes, the mythos of Scientology seems more tangible in this format. These are not just talking heads, these are situations that really happened. In fact, having them portrayed by actors also serves as a reminder that what seems fake, really happened. This “religion” and its seemingly insane behaviors continue to happen and have essentially been sanctioned and un-prosecuted by the government.

The entire thing is really quite stressful, even to the point where it imposes heavily on Rathburn and Theroux’s relationship itself. The two are quite contentious at times and it’s clear that the scars of his time in the Church will always torment Rathburn’s existence. It makes the viewer stop and think and sympathize for this man who’s seen the absolute worst in people, participated in it, and now lives with the ghosts of that time.

This is a documentary worth seeing, even if it lands you on the infamous “Suppressive Persons” list at the international Gold Base headquarters.

 

My Scientology Movie is now available on Digital HD.

 

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