Exit Through the Gift Shop – what is this movie really about?

What I thought was going to be a foray into the interesting and closely guarded world of avant-garde graffiti art turned into a strange story about a French emigrant with mental issues and a camera.  At least I think that’s what it was about.

Sound interesting?  That’s because Exit Through the Gift Shop is one wild ride into weirdness.

Meet Thierry Guetta, the aforementioned Frenchman who lives in LA.  He is fascinated with street art and films every waking moment of his life.  He has no formal training in photography or filmmaking, just a penchant for good timing and not thinking things completely through.

Thierry has a French cousin who’s into street art who goes by the name Space Invader.  Space Invader, we learn, is one of the forerunners of the street art movement.  This relationship is Thierry’s “in” to the world of street art.

Through Space Invader, Thierry meets Shepard Fairey (best known for his graffiti replications of Andre the Giant’s face in black and white), and finally – his newest obsession – Banksy.

The film is riveting in that Thierry meanders his way through life without much of a plan for anything but his own interest in whatever it happens to be that day; but he winds up in an amazing place at the end of the film.

Another tidbit that I found fascinating was that Banksy produced this film. The commentary about Thierry narrated by Shepard Fairey and Banksy toward the end of the film is confusing, funny, and makes one wonder what Thierry’s real motives were and if they were intended.

I won’t give the ending away except to say that Thierry remakes himself into “Mister Brainwash“.  This is a film that really shouldn’t be missed.