movie film review | chris tookey

Exit Through The Gift Shop

© Paranoid Pictures - all rights reserved
  Exit Through The Gift Shop Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
7.75 /10
Banksy, Thierry Guetta, Shepard Fairey
Full Cast >

Directed by: Anonymous
Written by:

Released: 2010
Origin: UK
Colour: C
Length: 86

Entertainingly comic documentary.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

Bookmark and Share

Poor, poor Banksy. Four stars for Britain’s most fashionable, left-wing, renegade artist from the Daily Mail film critic! I feel I’m spray-painting graffiti all over his street cred.

Possibly because I am one of the more notorious lickspittle running-dogs of the capitalist bourgeoisie, Banksy’s small army of publicists chose not to invite me to a preview of his first movie, but in the adventurous spirit of urban guerrillas everywhere I smuggled myself in. And I enjoyed what I saw.

Exit Through The Gift Shop purports to be a documentary by the world’s most bankable graffiti artist (pictured), about the street art movement in general, and in particular its video chronicler and biggest fan, an excitable and deeply improbable French nutcase called Thierry Guetta.

Like all the best anarchists, Banksy does not claim the director’s credit – no one does – but he appears to be the film’s driving force and pops up during it as a mysterious hooded figure with a digitally altered voice that makes him sound like the long-lost love-child of Darth Vader and Kathy Burke.

He explains how he came to meet Guetta and inadvertently helped unleash him on the world as a fully-fledged artist, despite Guetta’s lack of art training or, indeed, any noticeable talent.

We are told that Guetta has become a huge commercial success despite being unencumbered by creative ability or possibly because of it, under the name “Mr Brainwash”, mainly through selling blatant rip-offs of work by Banksy himself and other fashionable folk, especially Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Shepard Fairey.

I am in no position to say whether Guetta’s story is a true one. Many times during the movie, I was reminded of Orson Welles’ F for Fake (1973), a film about a hoaxer that was, in fact, a hoax itself.

But Banksy’s rueful account of the monster he himself created has the ring of poetic truth. It captures like no film before the reality that every explosion of subversive art eventually leads to a sellout of its ideals, sometimes by no-talent opportunists like Guetta, or more frequently by talented opportunists and rampant self-promoters like… well, Banksy, whose own attacks on capitalism have earned millions at auction.

And now here I am giving Banksy the ultimate in undesired praise, a favourable review in the Left’s most routinely reviled newspaper.

Sorry, Banksy, whoever you are, but I like your energy, your sense of humour and your love-hate relationship with the gullible admirers of everything labelled anti-establishment or avant-garde, all the more so if it’s ridiculously over-priced.

In a curious way, Banksy’s film – with its journey into a hidden nether-world, its crazed, obsessive characters and fractured sense of identity – gets much closer to the playful spirit of Lewis Carroll than anything in Tim Burton’s much-anticipated Alice in Wonderland.

Key to Symbols