Movie Review – Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Exit Through the Gift ShopThe story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world’s most infamous graffiti artists at work.

Director: Banksy
Stars: Banksy, Thierry Guetta and Space Invader

Exit Through The Gift Shop is a brilliant examination of the underground street art culture and some of its more acclaimed artists, but it is also a case study on art and what makes art or what makes an artist. Whether or not the documentary is true or not (as there are plenty who say that is it is not), the footage and story are so captivating that anyone will get caught up in the story. This is a film where the less you know about it beforehand, the better, so I will be purposely vague on a lot of the details.

The film follows Thierry Guetta, who at the time of most of the footage of the film, was a clothing shop owner. Through a friend, he is thrown into the culture of street art and becomes completely immersed into what is happening all around him. He becomes (somewhat) accepted into the underground culture and gathers tons of footage. From the information given in the documentary, the footage was never really meant to become a film. Actually, when it did become the first film by Thierry Guetta, the little bit of footage that we saw was horrible. Ultimately, renowned street artist Banksy took the footage and made a watchable documentary out of it.

When you watch the film, be prepared to be in for the long haul. I will admit that I was not really into the film for the opening act, but once the true meat of the film comes at you, you will really enjoy it. You will really be questioning who and what is art? Is art truly just someone’s expression of feelings and emotions? By the end of the film, you will see what becomes of Thierry Guetta and will surely be amazed.

As for me, I am not sold that this is a true story. To believe that Thierry Guetta could have created such a monumental event that no one outside of LA ever heard of seems a little far fetched to me. To see the Warholesque art that is much more than just created out of inspiration to an artist was another giveaway to me. Also, Banksy is known to be a prankster.

In the words of the mighty Mr. Brainwash, “I don’t know how to play chess, but to me, life is like a game of chess.” I have no idea what he means by it, but it made me laugh out loud.