Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)
Directed by Alex Gibney
***This film is currently available on HBO Now***
Nevertheless, Going Clear is certainly a lambasting of Scientology and its unique nature. Since the 1980s, Scientology has recruited many big names from entertainment into its realm -- Tom Cruise and John Travolta being the two biggest -- but there have also been quite a few who have broken away from the Church to speak out against it. Here, director and 35-year Scientologist Paul Haggis breaks his silence, as does 13-year member actor Jason Beghe, both of whom discuss what they believe to be nefarious aspects of the religion. However, filmmaker Alex Gibney makes sure that we're aware that Scientology wasn't just for celebs. Tom de Vocht (right hand man to chairman David Miscavige) and Marty Rathburn (Miscavige's top lieutenant) were in the intimate circle at the high reaches of the Church and both recently left after years of abusing people personally (and being abused themselves) in order to carry out the whims of Miscavige.
There's no denying that Going Clear is one-sided, but until very recently (even after the release of this film), the Scientology community did not give interviews repudiating statements given by others going against the Church. (That isn't to say that they didn't personally attack those who spoke out as is depicted in the documentary through a variety of methods...they just didn't do so publicly.) This one-sided nature obviously doesn't tell the whole story, but it solidly depicts those opposed to the religion's somewhat seedy tactics. The film goes on a little long (although it's definitely much more detailed than I expected which is appreciated at times) and it would've played a little better if we heard a bit from the pro-Scientology side of things, but it really is a fascinating glimpse at an unusual group.
The RyMickey Rating: B