Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop

An eye-opening look into the world of street art, the Academy Award nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop tells the story of filmmaker turned street artist Thierry Guetta, his inadvertent mentor/elusive graffiti artist Banksy and international street artists’  Invader and Shepard Fairey.

The story begins innocently enough with Guetta, a shop owner at the time, describing his incessant need to capture everything on film. On a holiday in France, he discovers that his cousin is none other than Invader, an internationally known French artist famous for pasting up mosaic tiles inspired by characters from the Space Invaders game in cities around the world.  Fascinated by the idea, Guetta decides to put his camera skills to use and begins to document Invader as he, along with others, usher in a new movement in graffiti art.  Guetta’s documentation leads to a chanced meeting with American street artist Shepard Fairy, which eventually leads him to messiah of street art- Banksy.

Upon their meeting, Banksy forms a rare friendship with Guetta and ultimately inspires the filmmaker to become a street artist himself, much to his chagrin. From this new development, the film takes an interesting twist as it begins to focus on Guetta’s rise in the art community under the pseudonym Mr. Brain Wash.  Meanwhile, along the way you can’t help but think if you’ve been brainwashed all along.

Its been widely discussed if Exit Through the Gift Shop is an actual documentary or an elaborate hoax orchestrated by Banksy in an attempt (a successful one at that) to thumb his nose at the people who bought into the hype of the commercialization of street art.  Whatever it is, it succeeds at being an enthralling and unique look at the underworld of graffiti art.  Exit Through the Gift Shop is definitely a film that deserves a second and a third watch, as its highly entertaining, funny and most importantly a head scratcher.  In short,  its everything that Casey Affleck’s  I’m Still Here could have been if it wasn’t so god-awful.

My Grade: 7.5/10

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2 Responses to “Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop”

  1. Think Banksy will show up at the Oscars?

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