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.