Movie Review: "Exit Through the Gift Shop"

 

Thierry Guetta is a little bit horrific.

“Exit Through the Gift Shop,” a new documentary film from the sometimes controversial street artist, Banksy, is a study of this somewhat fascinating Frenchman and all around questionable character.

A journey through the urban art landscape, it’s the examination of one man’s pursuit to emulate, or as Banksy would state: plagiarize the work of others. It’s awesome, if only because it’s so damn fascinating.

Guetta’s interest in street art began like most obsessions. He knew someone who introduced him to it, who knew someone else, who knew this other guy, who also liked to sneak onto rooftops at night, or into alleys and generally shadow-filled places to commit the crime of art. It was Thierry’s unique twist to film absolutely all of it. And people kept letting him.

And through these ever expanding circles, Thierry was finally introduced to his hero, Banksy. And then the groundwork was laid for Banksy’s take over.

At what point exactly Banksy took control of the film project is unclear, but when he commandeers the film, and all of the footage Thierry accumulated, he isn’t chronicling art so much as he’s chronicling Frankenstein’s monster.

Encouraged by Banksy, Thierry begins to create his own art. Great heaping piles of it. Stinking piles. Godless reams of ink and paint. A shit-storm.

And how much of said shit-storm is a result of Thierry’s unique view of life? None of it. Is it art at all?

Banksy poses the following:

How often can an image be reproduced before all meaning is lost?

At what point does art lose its value, and how harshly do we judge those who remove it?

I wouldn’t call it great, but “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” is a fascinating film that gets into your head, if only that after, you re-examine the place you live, the bridges, the sidewalks, the unexamined world we move past daily.

If you live in LA, as I do, get out and see it; if you’re not blind, you’ll recognize art in more places than you ever realized. Explore your city; there’s art to be had!

Narrated by Rhys Ifans, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” is now playing in limited release.

 

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There is an alternate take on this. I chose not to explore it, but regardless, do a little digging and the film offers even larger and crazier horizons to be explored. Click here for more information.

 

Directed by: Banksy

Rated: R, for brief, strong language

Should you go? It's good. Check it out.