After seeing Exit Through the Gift Shop at a sneak preview screening last night, I immediately Googled the name Thierry Guetta when I got home. What I thought was going to be a documentary about the street art movement, particularly about Brit icon Banksy, inadvertently turned into some sort of mockumentary about Guetta, the French-born, LA-based amateur filmmaker turned pop culture sensation.
I left the theatre thoroughly entertained, with a lot to discuss.
The first half of the film sets the foundation for the history of street art and the careers of Banksy and Shepard Fairey, to name a few. The raw footage shot by Guetta depicting the creations of such controversial pieces as Banksy's stencil work on the West Bank, and the time he decided to hang his paintings on the walls of the Louvre, was mind blowing (not to mention the footage of Fairey's late night, covert wheat pasting missions on buildings and billboards in cities across the world). The witty commentary and personal interviews with the artists played a key part as well. Banksy kept up the mystery by warping his voice, and his face was blurred throughout the entire film.
But before you know it, the subject of the film takes a strange twist and Guetta quickly starts soaking up the spotlight. Possessing a strange obsession with filming absolutely everything, he gets wrapped up in documenting these stencil, wheat paste, and spray paint adventures in hopes of making a movie. Guetta begins to dabble in the art world himself, with the support and encouragement of somewhat unlikely friends Banksy and Fairey. Little did either of them know that they had created a monster when Guetta's fame--as a pop artist by the name of Mr. Brainwash (or MBW)--literally skyrockets overnight with the help of a sturdy team of producers and set builders, and the rest is left up to the audience to decide.