It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The widespread speculation that “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is a hoax only adds to its fascination. An anonymous London graffiti artist named Banksy arrives to paint walls in Los Angeles. He encounters an obscure Frenchman named Thierry Guetta, who has dedicated his life to videotaping graffiti artists.
The Frenchman's hundreds of tapes have been dumped unorganized into boxes. Banksy thinks they might make a film. Guetta makes a very bad one. Banksy takes over the film and advises Guetta to create some art himself. Guetta does, names himself Mr. Brainwash, and organizes an exhibition of his work through which he makes a fortune in sales.
Surely Guetta cannot be real? With his dashing mustache and Inspector Clouseau accent, his long-suffering wife and his zealous risk-taking to film illegal artists by stealth? Surely he didn't rent a former CBS television studio and transform it into an exhibition space? Surely people didn't line up at dawn to get in — and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the works of an artist who had never held a show, sold a work or received a review? Surely not if his work looked like art school ripoffs of the familiar styles of famous artists?
Even while I sat spellbound during this film, that's what I was asking myself. But Thierry Guetta surely did. His art exhibition was written up in a cover story in L.A. Weekly on June 12, 2008. It mentions this film, which Banksy was “threatening to do.” Common sense dictates that no one would rent a CBS studio and fill it with hundreds of art works in order to produce a hoax indie documentary. Nor would they cast Guetta, indubitably a real person, as himself. Right? Right?