by Paul Shapiro

Scientology seems like a soft target for the Academy Award© winning director of ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Alex Gibney. It’s not as if people need convincing that scientologists are a bunch of brainwashed morons hell bent on financial domination. I mean as long as they just stick to extorting Hollywood nutters like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and don’t hurt anyone else, who gives a shit. What more needs to be known?

Well plenty, according to Gibney’s latest feature, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.

Based around the eyewitness accounts of eight former members of the Church of Scientology, Going Clear shows the extent church management will go to supress and exploit members in the name of religion and true belief. To say these people are fucked up is an understatement.

Mass beatings, mental abuse, child abuse and harassment are just some of the methods used to keep people in line and keep the church’s coffers deep.

The film suggests Scientology is all about wealth, ego and the quest for power and I think that could be right but the same could be said of most religions.

Gibney tells the story using a variety of interviews, film footage and dramatizations. The insight from the interviewees is explosive and this is as good as anyone has got so far but the I feel the film just fails to land that knock-out punch, the one needed to really give Scientology a boot up the ass.

Outside of the eight former members there really isn’t much more dirt on the church and an opposing view from the church would have been nice. To be fair to Gibney, he was refused interviews by Cruise, Travolta and church head, David Miscavige so I’m not sure what he could’ve done more.

They did offer him 25 scientologists ready to tell their story to camera but Gibney wasn’t interested and who could blame him, it would have just been more bullshit.

Anyone that opposes the church is a target including Going Clear’s filmmakers, with the church taking out full page ads in major American newspapers condemning the doco as lies and vitriol. Gibney responded with delight and he thanked the church for providing free marketing only next time make sure to include the session times.

Even film critics reviewing the film have been subjected to harassment, I’m not sure if their reach can get me at RMIT but I’ll be ready.

Going Clear is an even production that will make most people hate Scientology a little bit more except of course braindead morons.

3 stars

Going Clear is out now in selected cinemas across Australia.

Photo via. HBO

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