What's Worth Watching: HBO's Going Clear Takes on Scientology

Aubry D'Arminio
Courtesy of HBO

Going Clear

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (Sunday, March 29, 8/7c, HBO)

Admit it. To most people, Scientology is just a punch line. It's that thing Tom Cruise does between movies. And that John Travolta used to do, but not much anymore, no one is really sure. It's that religion where you believe in aliens and get brain scans, and either hate or love an overlord named Xenu. Going Clear, director Alex Gibney's excellent documentary on the faith, chronicles Scientology's history from its birth in 1954 to today—and will disabuse you of all that. With the help of journalist Lawrence Wright (who wrote the bestseller that inspired the doc) and several former members (including Chicago PD star Jason Beghe and Crash writer-director Paul Haggis), Gibney unearths a past of greed, violence, megalomania, brainwashing, homophobia, and exploitation within the church that will have you questioning was even funny about it. You might not be crying, or frightened, or angry when the film is over (though you should be). But you will not be laughing.

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