The doco follows Guetta from his early days as an obsessive videotaper through his budding friendship with Fairey and Banksy. It details how reclusive Banksy finally began to trust him after he did not talk, even after being grilled by Disneyland security for hours when a Banksy stunt went public eerily too early.
Eventually Banksy asked Guetta, he of the Inspector Clouseau-esque French lilt, to dig out his exhaustive videotapes and produce a document of recent street art in film form. At that point, Banksy, his face covered and his voiced heavily modulated on camera, says he realized that Guetta may have taped everything, but he was not mentally sound enough to find, sort and edit the endless tapes into a documentary structure. The resulting rough cut was to prove unwatchable.
Banksy told Guetta to go do some art of his own while he, Banksy, sorted through the thousands of hours of tapes.
Guetta takes him at face value, and becomes Mr. Brainwash, an artist booking a huge show. Not a retrospective - neither Brainwash nor Guetta have ever shown anything before - but an all new artist's show in a huge warehouse in Los Angeles, featuring several hundred pieces of art, which, of course, Mr. Brainwash does not have.
He commissions dozens of workers to produce his ideas. Most of his ideas seem to be of the kind, "Get the most famous picture of Michael Jackson and matte it into a Warhol silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe. Ok, now get one of somebody famous and turn it into a Shepherd Fairey "Hope"style picture and print it."
This all works, amazingly, and the hired hands produce hundreds of pictures. One wonders about the copyright issues.
And then, Mr. Brainwash undergoes the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul. For he tumbles from a stepladder (caught on his ubiquitous camera) and breaks his fifth metatarsal, or what we laymen call his 'little toe'. Confined to a wheelchair, the stricken artist's big opening is doubt.
Mind you, I'd stopped believing in the existence of Thierry Guetta or Mr. Brainwash long before then. There are no details, not even his wife and kids, that seem to back up his actual existence. He follows Banksy around - well, there's no corroboration of that, obviously. He destroys his Disneyland tapes so as not to get imprisoned by the interrogators. He produces no art anyone has ever seen prior to the show. His thousands of hours of compulsive videos appear only as static shots of unlabelled tapes in bins in his house. They do, however, serve to explain how come his toe-breaking incident was captured on tape - except - If Guetta is the one who films obsessively, how come he is seen tumbling from the ladder from the pov of a third person?
The show, despite the muse-threatening little toe fracture incident, is a howling success.
Of course, it doesn't matter if artists don't really exist. We don't buy a Picasso because he was a man, or a Warhol because we know he frequented New York City haunts. As a music lover, rather than a visual arts lover, I'm used to subterfuge. Milli Vanilli weren't the band they said they were, and neither were the Monkees. The Dead Weather, my current favorite band, obviously picked out their persona from masks lying around in their toolbox which they donned and expected me to believe, so I did. Finding a musician whose corporeal self actually corresponds to the art he makes is actually quite difficult nowadays and nobody cares. At least I don't care.
If Mr. Brainwash sells many more of his $30k to $300k canvases in future, I might envy him, but I still won't believe in him.