Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop

Directed by Banksy

Release Date: May 2010 (limited)


Those familiar with the work of notorious graffiti artist Banksy would be correct in assuming that a film by him would be just as unconventional and mockingly elusive as his other work.

Indeed, Exit Through the Gift Shop forgoes the implied documentary on Banksy to question the overlap between “real” art and commercial dross, the moral grounds of both graffiti and film and the interplay between fiction and reality, all guided by a twinkling sense of humour and cheerful cynicism.

While its tagline “the world’s first street art disaster movie” may be a mild misnomer, it is telling of the fundamentally unique nature of Banksy’s film, unequivocally one of the most fresh, smart and fun films to hit cinemas in years.

Banksy cleverly utilizes kinetic editing, frank interviews with many prominent street artists (including enigmatic filmmaker turned artist Mr. Brainwash, whose story takes a sardonically amusing turn of its own), a pounding soundtrack and the chortling narration of Rhys Ifans to keep the tone frisky and compelling throughout.

Exit Through the Gift Shop is bound to leave viewers reeling in both laughter and deep thought – questioning the intrinsic value of art, whether the film is one big joke on the viewer’s behalf and whether it even matters.

Despite the film’s intent allegedly shifting away from informational documentary, one even ends up learning a fair amount about Banksy and street art in general.

Never before has such a slippery film been so reliably stellar.