“Exit” is billed as “a Banksy film,” but Banksy, the notoriously reclusive British street artist, appears only rarely, face hooded and voice distorted. Even so, it is Banksy whom audiences will come hoping to see, stimulated by the canopy of hype that this artist has carefully erected, in interviews and on the festival circuit. What they will find is, like Banksy’s best work, a trompe l’oeil: a film that looks like a documentary but feels like a monumental con.
Ultimately, wondering whether “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is real or not may be moot. It certainly asks real questions: about the value of authenticity, financially and aesthetically; about what it means to be a superstar in a subculture built on shunning the mainstream; about how sensibly that culture judges, and monetizes, talent.