Exit Through the Gift Shop

27 12 2010


The film follows Thierry, a quirky amateur-filmmaker who decides to make a documentary about his passion, street art.  After years of filming street artists and amassing boxes upon boxes of footage, Thierry is finally able to track down Banksy, arguably the biggest and most popular on the scene, and can now finish his “epic” street art documentary.  The problem is that Thierry is a truly awful artist and filmmaker, and when Banksy sees the finished product, he suggests that Thierry leave him the footage (after all, it is great, one-of-a-kind footage) for him to edit and in the meantime become a street artist himself.  Banksy then completely shifts the focus of the film to Thierry, raising the question of who the film’s true director is, as Thierry’s film about Banksy and street art transforms into Banksy’s film about Thierry.  Thierry becomes “Mr. Brainwash” (a fitting name) and goes on to create a huge collection of ripped-off, shallow work, but hypes his debut show so successfully (with help from Banksy and a few other street artists) that the art crowd becomes fascinated with it, turning Thierry into an overnight sensation as they rave about his work and spend thousands of dollars on every piece.

The result is that what started out as a documentary about street art turns into a giant “F-U” to the art world.  Thierry is a terrible artist, yet people love him and spend crazy amounts of money on his work thanks to the hype and the media.  The film works on multiple levels, not only as a critique of the art world but simply as a documentary on street art and its appeal in general.

Many are asking if this is real or a hoax (much like I’m Still Here and Catfish from earlier this year), but it’s brilliant however you choose to look at it.  Whether it’s a true documentary or an elaborate prank, it works.  It raises many questions about the art world, and documentaries, and is well worth seeing if you’re at all interested in either.





One response

15 07 2012

Interesting take on this film, rather opposite from my own experience of it. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on my review. While I liked the set up and the whole turning the tables gimmick, I couldn’t maintain a connection with the story or the characters and the shaky camera docu-drama approach of low-to-no-budget ‘indie’ movies like this weigh heavy and wear thin. I wanted to believe the hype but ended up upset that I let myself get taken to the proverbial cleaners. I suppose the only real way to know what you make of the movie is to watch it but that would mean someone else would have to invest two hours of their life in the potential for failure and I don’t want to take that kind of responsibility. Cheers->


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