Saturday, 13 August 2011

Exit Through The Gift Shop

I fear this film has been sold incorrectly. Terms like documentary, satire and “Oscar nominated” are battered about this film, when in reality it is much more comedy drama than anything else. This film took me by surprise and is one of the freshest, genuinely witty comedies I’ve seen in years.
The film begins following Thierry Guetta, an eccentric, obsessive compulsive Frenchman who films everything. He quietly follows various “street artists” and his indoctrination into this underground circle is an entertaining little flick all by itself. Thierry is comic perfection, bumbling about pretending to be real deep when really he is much more of a mad man than a genius. The various, throwaway facts the film lays onto him are brilliant, for example he purchases poorly sewn clothes from Eastern Europe, imports them into America and sells them as designer.
This rather foreshadows the amazing second act. Under the recommendation from “Banksy”, the mysterious artist who directs the film, Thierry sets about “making his own art”. It starts innocently enough, but soon he is holding a pompous art event with the worst knock offs of street art imaginable. The joy of this film is watching an utter buffoon completely destroy the art industry. In one scene a “customer” phones up looking for an “original” from the exhibition, without even looking at any of his non-existent work. Lazily Guetta has someone else photoshop another crude picture, print it fresh and sell it for thousands. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s fake, I’m fairly certain Guetta himself is a fictional role, but it certainly looks like the “exhibition” was a genuine success purely from a con. Even if this film absolutely bombs, I’m sure the stunts alone have made Banksy absolutely minted.
This is to art what Spinal Tap was to rock, only much, much better. There may be less “turn it up to 11” worthy dialogue but the long list of hijinks and the likely hood that too much of this is true than there really should be makes it better than some daft Stonehenge skit.
This is on Channel 4 tonight if you’re interested, and if you think it sounds too pretentious, trust me, it’s not.

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