SomethingToDo2

This ripper see-it-to-believe-it indie documentary paints an eclectic portrait of graffiti, street and installation art. Exit Through the Gift Shop begins as a broad overview of ultra contemporary styles then inconspicuously narrows into a study of one burgeoning artist and his weird and wonderful ways.

The ultimate strength of every documentary rests largely on its subject, and this one is a doozy — a blasé Frenchman named Thierry Guetta, who spends his life filming everything for no apparent reason before going on to become a celebrated modern art ‘genius’ in his own right.

Rather than saluting Guetta’s achievements or presenting his story in the context of a study about his talents Exit Through the Gift Shop goes the other way, raising serious questions about what it takes to become a revered artist and whether any nincompoop can crack the big time if they strike the right combination of variables.

Guetta’s gradual plight to stardom-of-sorts is brought to the screen in a compelling fashion, with lashings of twisted contemporary aesthetic enlivening the running time. It’s a one in a million success story and, oh yeah, and it might not actually be true.

Exit Through the Gift Shop was after all directed by renown out-there British artist Banksy, who has proven himself over the years to be not just a mighty talented individual but a serial prankster and troublemaker to boot. Banksy appears in the film but he can’t show you his face; not because he’s also a dentist but because some of his art-related high jinx could earn him serious time in the slammer.

Director and renowned out-there British artist Banksy sprays the film with a feast of eye-catching art: striking stencils, kooky installation pieces, ultra contemporary takes on pop culture. The images are bold, subversise and anachronistic — great looking puzzles that challenge viewers to analyse them on their own wacky terms. A little like the film itself.

The details: Exit Through the Gift Shop is on limited release at Dendy Newtown in Sydney, the Palace George and Cinema Nova in Melbourne, Tribal Theatre in Brisbane and the Luna cinema in Leederville, Perth.

Peter Fray

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