A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Banksy
Produced By: Holly Cushing, Jaimie D’Cruz, James Gay-Rees
Starring: Thierry Guetta, Banksy, Sheopard Fairey, Invader
Running Time: 87 Minutes
A countercultural revolutionary and subversive provocateur, the legendary English street artist Banksy is responsible for some of the most thought-provoking, daring and genius works of modern art.
Sending a strong and pinpointed message through both the most minute individual pieces and through an entire body of work as a collective, the movement of street art spawned countless creative minds just like the kingpin Banksy to break out, express themselves and send their own personal message in the process.
Sold as “A Banksy Film”, 2010’s Exit Through The Gift Shop focuses on a seemingly delusional Frenchman in search for creative enlightenment and validation.
Going in, audiences will unsurprisingly be expecting a documentary exploring the origins and trie identity of the legendary artist, but it’s not what they’ll receive.
Instead, they’ll be treated to a two-sided account of one man’s desperate pursuit of another which evolved into a blossoming partnership but all too quickly became a cautionary tale about creativity, exposure, hype, egotism, identity and fraudulence.
There is one question that lingers after the marvellously crafted documentary concludes however; was it all real?
The simple answer is that we aren’t to know definitively, yet it ultimately doesn’t matter.
The ambiguity of whether or not Exit Through The Gift Shop is the fabricated work of a genius hoaxer or a genuine insight into an unparalleled cultural movement simply furthers the levels of discussion through subjectivity.
It in itself is a work of art; isn’t that the point?
Thierry Guetta is introduced as a curious creature of habit, constantly filming life as it passes him by.
Not filming anything in particular for any purpose whatsoever, the self-credited filmmaker took to capturing the rapidly growing trend of street art on camera, meeting with notorious members of the community from across the globe with a supposed end goal of combining his footage into a brilliant documentary on the subject.
Through extensive networking and feet passing through doors, Guetta sets his sights on the biggest name of all; Banksy.
Delving into the creative process behind some of the most popular and provocative works of art in major cities across the world, the revealing documentary ultimately turns to the audience and asks them what makes an artist? What is art and what isn’t? Is there a process? Are there rules? If so, what are they?
Cutting back and forth between the deluded and unstable Guetta (who unravels himself as the film progresses and a bona fide maniac) and a voice-distorted, blackened, anonymous Banksy, the storytelling aspects of the film cleverly form a parallel road of harmonious anecdotes, only to deviate like a T-intersection following the screening of a certain film that sees Guetta take a sharp left and Banksy wisely turn right and never look back.
This is a disaster film that highlights and exposes conceit in the face of purity and devotion.
If this story is in fact true, it’s a genuine tragedy, and a big one at that.
Cleverly told, brilliantly edited and surprisingly amusing, Exit Through The Gift Shop is informative, intriguing, dark, funny and alarming. It offers audiences a micro-history into the movement that changed how we perceive art, as well as increasing our appreciation for the masters, the purists such as Banksy.
The film spotlights devotion, dedication and intelligence as three integral components for creating meaningful, striking works of art, and the fact that becoming an overnight success is a surefire way to alienate yourself from those who so trustingly let you in to their world.