Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Written & Directed by Bansky

This film is about art. So what is art? What is it to you? To me? Is it the same? My guess is that it is not. In my opinion art comes in many forms and is best when it surprises you. This film is about street art, a phenomenon that has become popular around the globe. These “street artists” are more than just hoodlum graffiti artists on the street to ruin it. These people genuinely believe in their art just as much as Picasso or Degas believed in theirs. I think the whole idea behind this documentary is genius and it can go one of two ways: is it real, or is it a hoax? Well, you decide, but it is good either way.

The film is directed by renowned street artist Banksy, who hails from England, but it wasn’t always so. The film chronicles the antics of Frenchman Thierry Guetta, who has immigrated to Los Angeles and loves to film with his video camera. He follows local street artists such as Shepard Fairey and films what they do, but he does nothing with the film, even after he claims he is making a documentary on street art when the subjects begin to question his continual filming. But he hasn’t yet met the king of street art, Bansky. So when he does, his documentary is complete and he edits a final cut. The problem is that it sucks. So Bansky and Guetta trade places and Bansky becomes the filmmaker and Guetta the street artist under the name “Mister Brainwash”. It is at the point that suspicion arises as to whether or not this is a hoax.

The last act of the film depicts the meteoric rise of Mister Brainwash into a successful street artist. The questions raised by Bansky the filmmaker and Bansky the artist are the same. What is art? Who makes art? But more importantly, what makes it good and bad? I guess it is all in the eye of the beholder, but even the blind can perceive beauty. If the story is real then it is very interesting and entertaining and I have some questions and thoughts about the pop art scene and what the motives are of the people that buy expensive art. If it is a hoax then I have the same questions, but then again if it is a hoax then this film reaches a new level of artistic achievement in the questions it does raise without it even being based in reality. I have never seen the Mona Lisa, but I have seen a fake. I assume they are similar enough that the beauty of the fake is the same in the original, it is just a matter of knowing who actually painted it that makes it magnificent, seeing the canvas that Da Vinci actually rendered the painting on.


  1. I think a lot of people are still projecting their own views of art on this film. I know I'm guilty of it because I'm not sure if I think street art is really art. I don't think the film grapples with those questions, instead it's more interested in entertaining.

    It entertains in a clever way, but I didn't come out of the film thinking much about the actual art involved, just how silly people are at projecting their views on mediocre artwork and this film, which is why even though I don't think it's a great film, it certainly is brilliant.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s