Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Exit Through Gift ShopIs it a documentary about street art? A mockumentary about an eccentric Frenchman who takes up street art at Banksy’s suggestion? An intelligent put-on buzzing with social commentary on celebrity and what it considered good art? Yes, yes and yes.

You meet Thierry Guetta, a vintage resale shop owner who’s never not video-documenting his life. When he begins filming his cousin—French street artist Invader, his life takes a turn. He meets other street artists. He starts filming them and getting into his role so much so that soon he's assisting them, climbing buildings and filming from high above. He documents the Who’s Who of street artists including Shepard Fairey (creator of the Obama Hope poster), Borf, Swoon (female representation), Sweet Toof. When he starts sniffing around for Banksy, the elusive English street artist, he’s told “never, it won’t happen, he doesn’t even own a phone.” But, a coup d'état occurs—they meet and it’s chemistry.

Clever and funny, Exit Through the Gift Shop is wickedly entertaining. The narration guides it like a fairy tale. Guetta is genius. Can a character like him be made up? Would these artists agree to be filmed? Who knows for sure? Many things don’t make sense—Guetta’s copyright infringement, the Disney incident, the over-the-top show (which means Brad, Angie, Christina and Jude were complicit or themselves duped)—but that adds it because you’re still unable to know what is really happening.

If you like street art, you may like this. If you like Banksy, you’ll love it. Don’t miss the what-are-they-doing-now bit at the end about Debora (Guetta’s wife). It’s a great touch.

Director: Banksy

Country: UK

Genre: Documentary with a heavy hand of comedy

Run time: 87 minutes

Scale: 5

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