‘The Vow’ review: HBO brings jaw-dropping detail to the strange story of NXIVM

That method pays off with extreme, uncanny information about the inner workings of what prosecutors explained as a top secret intercourse cult, and a docuseries that plays like an espionage thriller.

Directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer (“The Good Hack”) used years chronicling the tale of NXIVM and its charismatic leader, Keith Raniere, whose keep was broken by a sexual intercourse-trafficking case that implicated other users, amongst them former “Smallville” co-star Allison Mack and heiresses to the Bronfman household fortune.

NXIVM’s roots, nevertheless, go further than that, as Raniere charmed a range of Hollywood figures, wealthy benefactors and even the Dalai Lama, with whom he’s demonstrated assembly irrespective of the non secular leader’s warning about participating with him.

There is, in point, an nearly surreal factor to “The Vow,” which broadly illustrates people’s vulnerability to sleek-talking hucksters, and the way that Raniere’s business insinuated alone into the lives of his accurate believers.

That buildup precedes laying bare a team within the group that pushed women into sexual interactions with Raniere and branded them — virtually carving symbols into their skin — while setting up a technique of “masters” and “slaves,” demanding “collateral” that would verify uncomfortable to ensure the latter’s obedience and compliance.

Slowly, the net of these looking for to topple what they liken to a prison contains not only Vicente and his spouse, Bonnie Piesse (who appeared in the “Star Wars” prequels), but actors Sarah Edmondson and former “Dynasty” star Catherine Oxenberg, who wages a diverse fight to extricate her daughter, India, from the group.

Mark Vicente and Sarah Edmonson in 'The Vow.'

Together the way, viewers are treated to plenty of cell phone phone calls and video clips, documenting each and every action as disenchanted users endeavor to break absent in what feels like genuine time. That extraordinary entry separates “The Vow” from other docuseries initiatives, considering that it isn’t going to count on the recollections of all those involved but essentially peers more than their shoulders and listens in as considerably of the story unfolds.

The way NXIVM sought out and rubbed elbows with the abundant and famous only heightens the feeling of looking at a real-everyday living cleaning soap opera, 1 whose more than-the-prime drama initially challenges emotion as well slick and massaged. Chalk that up, in component, to the abundance of performers showcased, starting with Raniere himself.

Shortly adequate, nevertheless, the narrative settles in as an eye-opening demonstration of how cults work, reworking NXIVM’s Govt Results Packages, or ESP, into a in the vicinity of-religious campaign. Vicente’s intensive footage reveals him currently being drawn into Raniere’s orbit as an ally and confidant, just before Piesse’s misgivings turned his very own.

Raniere is awaiting sentencing soon after staying observed guilty of racketeering, intercourse trafficking and other crimes, but one can see the inordinate sway he wielded about followers, dispensing pearls of knowledge like, “A cynic is anyone who seeks to switch excellent to negative.”
A cynic may also say the abundance of docuseries has diluted the genre’s effects, as has the inclination to drag multi-part tasks out as well extended. For each and every zeitgeist-worthy “Tiger King” — which landed at just the right time — there are two or 3 you could simply do without.

“The Vow,” by distinction, plunges so deep into this weird planet that it stands aside from the crowd. Even stretched to 9 chapters, its immersive seem into how cults can flourish provides, in Television set conditions, a diverse variety of handbook for good results.

“The Vow” premieres Aug. 23 at 10 p.m. on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.

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