Art questioned in the Sundance hit “Exit Through the Gift Shop”
Anyone who is expecting to see a docu about famed international graffiti artist Banksy will be sorely disappointed should they decide to watch the well-received, spotlight surprise Sundance film “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” That said, the unexpected is what makes the film so compelling.
The docu introduces us to frenchman Thierry “Terry” Guetta, a Los Angeles retail shop owner by day, filmmaker by night. A passion for film, Guetta documents anything and everything with his camera. Even his family is fair game. But it isn’t until he decides to document graffiti artists that he discovers his true calling.
Without revealing any spoilers, Guetta earns the trust of local graffiti artists and as such is given permission to follow them around with his camera. These relationships prove to be paramount as they eventually lead him to Banksy, who takes a liking to him as well; Guetta becomes Banksy’s assistant.
When Banksy demands to see Guetta’s docu on graffiti artists, Guetta produces “Life Remote Control,” an unwatchable mess of a film. It is at this point Bansky takes matters into his own hands. Banksy decides to produce a docu that is better than the one Guetta put together. With that in mind, Banksy turns the camera on Guetta (who turns out to be a great subject) and that is when the real journey begins.
“Exit Through the Gift Shop” is that rare docu that plays like a narrative in that there are plot twists and there is a character arc. And while there is speculation that the story is inauthentic, one can’t help but be fascinated by the universal themes the docu addresses – celebrity obsession and what is popular versus high art. To that end, film should appeal to a broad audience.