It seems the Church of Scientology isn't too happy with the new Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman film -- The Master. Maybe it's because the movie hits a little too close to home.
It's about an ex-military man who decides to form his own religion, which actually ends up being much more of a cult. Obviously there are some correlations between the new film and L. Ron Hubbard and his faith-based group. Perhaps too many correlations for the comfort of those who believe in Scientology.
Word is the Church of Scientology tried to stop production of the film early on, but were unable to do so. Now all they have left is to attack it on the back-end. They have no problem with that, having recently sent a scathing letter to Vanity Fair for daring to print an exposÃ© about Tom Cruise. It intimated actresses auditioned for the role of his wife.
Like the movie, the church couldn't stop the article. So instead they cried bigotry and attack on freedom of religion once it came out. A former Scientologist said the Weinstein Company, which produced the film, can expect the same tactics being thrown at The Master.
However, the source doesn't think the church will resort to a lawsuit. That would be tantamount to admitting the truth of the movie's story. Plus they can't claim defamation of L. Ron Hubbard's character because he's dead.
The source went on to suggest the church let things stand as they are, with the film merely implying it was loosely inspired by the Scientology founder. Doing anything else is likely to add fuel to the fire. Given that the church is already under attack on many fronts, they probably want to avoid that.
At least one star of the film says that Scientology was never mentioned as the basis for the film; at least on set. He says the parallels were actually drawn more by the media than the film's production staff.
The public may never know how much of the movie is truthful and how much got fabricated. In the long run, maybe none of that really matters. It's the tactics used by Philip Seymour Hoffman's character that are eye-opening. They could just as easily be used for any fringe religion or religious cult. That's probably the point the film is trying to make. Sadly, when it comes to strange religious beliefs or practices, Scientology doesn't stand alone.