Exit Through the Gift Shop
is a documentary by Banksy, a prolific street artist. But the film is not just the story of Banksy and his milieu but also that of Thierry Guetta, an eccentric and terrifically likeable Frenchman who has shot an unquantifiable amount of footage of street artists. His devotedly amateurish documentation of the artists who became his friends is exhilarating for the way it depicts these clandestine outlaws at play. The joie de vivre
factor of Gift Shop
is through the roof, and that is its primary quality, but around the halfway mark the subject matter turns to the inextricable (and icky) interplay of art and commerce. It's a no less worthy topic, but it's a definite downer, perhaps unnecessarily so. Then again, a little poking around online reveals that the whole thing—and Guetta himself—might not be exactly what it seems to be at first. As is clear from the film, Banksy's sense of humor is the strongest aspect of his work, so we probably shouldn't be surprised if a big chunk of his film is itself a well-pulled-off prank.