Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film (2010)

Filed under : documentary, review

When I first heard about this film, it was all the rage. Personally, I had never heard of Banksy before this movie came out. Though, it seemed like he was a big deal in the art world – a really big deal. And, this film showed it.

But, this film was not about Banksy at all. And, that was what made it so brilliant.

It was a story about just a normal guy, Thierry Guetta (aka Mr. Brainwash), who wanted to be a filmmaker. And, in his quest – he stumbles upon the underground art world scene, which was both dangerous yet intriguing.

(Note: For those who have seen the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. In a sense, this underground art world scene sparks scene sparks controversy and interest among all art lovers alike. And, that’s what I found so interesting).

So, what is so special about Thierry’s story? What makes him so interesting to center a film around him and his life? Well, you’ll be surprised at the answer – it definitely threw me for a loop.

Basically, this is a story about how an ordinary guy went from rags to riches (basically overnight) in the art world. Now, Thierry didn’t really have any experience in the art world.

But, he did have experience (and loved) using a video camera – he was very passionate about shooting video of everything. And, this passion progressed into filming artists in the underground world – big time artists such as Space Invader, Shepard Fairey, and of course – Banksy.

Though as the film progresses, it slowly unfolds into displaying Thierry’s quest to be a filmmaker into a new quest – to be an artist. And, this is where the madness begins.

You see, in Thierry’s new quest to be an artist – he consulted with Banksy (who seemed to serve as a kind of mentor), who told him he should really start small and build from there.

(Note: In the film, it depicts Banksy as suggesting Thierry enter and hold small art shows to display his work just inviting family and friends to start off . Then, after a few shows he could then build up his reputation and work towards bigger shows).

But, this was not how Thierry operated. He wanted to be big. And, fast.

So, the story continues to show how Thierry became a success overnight. Though, at the expense of almost every single artist he befriended – including Banksy.

(Note: I don’t want to ruin it for those who have not seen the film, but I’ll just say – it’s really one of those things where it seemed he took advantage of these relationships and friendships that he had made).

Personally, I think this film has a very interesting and important message to say about art. And, that is that “Art is really in the eye of the beholder.”

In this case, there were many beholders willing to pay top dollar for art by a regular guy who had just become an overnight success. And, all this due to his connections and relationships he had made in the underground art world.

At the end of the film, Banksy makes a very important observation. And, that is – who is the joke really on?

In a sense, I think this film really begs the question – what makes an artist? And, how can an artist’s work really be measured? By the amount of money he or she makes? Or, by the popularity of his or her work? Or, both? Or, neither? Who decides?

Overall, I enjoyed this film – it’s different. And, it had an interesting yet important message. Even if you do not consider yourself an artist, it’s definitely something I find worth looking into.

If you’re in the mood for a documentary type of film, I do recommend this one.

Film Gurl’s 15 Minute Rule: PASS

Happy movie watching!

p.s. Feel free to leave comments on any post either here and/or my Facebook Page. Comments are always welcome, thanks for reading!

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4 Responses to “Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film (2010)”

  1. Karen says:

    I really liked the film. One of my favorites from 2010, Top 10 worthy.

  2. We haven’t seen/reviewed this yet, though its on our long list right now. I’ve always been a Banksy fan. Any window into his world in any way would spark my personal interest for sure. I’m going to have to move this up the list.

    • filmgurl says:

      If you’re a Banksy fan, you will probably find this one interesting. I had not heard about Banksy before this film. It surprised me that the focus was not so much on him. Good to hear this has made your list!

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