Banksy Most Wanted
The question of who Banksy is is one that many of us assumed had already been answered. However, Banksy Most Wanted peels back the curtain only to prove that the mystery remains largely unsolved and, in doing so, reveals that the real fun may lie in simply speculating over this untraceable man.
Co-directed by Paris-based documentarians Aurélia Rouvier and Seamus Haley, Banksy Most Wanted begins with the street artist’s 2018 attention-catching stunt: detonating a shredder on his own work, Girl with Balloon, immediately after the gavel slammed at its auction. Next, the film races to quickly bring its audience up to speed on the Banksy hype. It retraces his Bristolian roots, his iconic work strewn across the walls of London, the Dismaland exposition, and his travels to Palestine. Despite the scope of his career, there is an undeniable admiration for the humanity embedded in Banksy’s work. He is painted as the anonymous hero who alerted society to its own ills.
Of course, a hero needs a villain, and the film finds it in figures from the art world who rip Banksy’s work off the walls for financial gain. Though the smug art dealers are presented as morally defunct, they make the salient, albeit pessimistic, point that Banksy’s attempts to disrupt the art world prove he is a willing participant in it. Likewise, interviews with his proud agent Steve Lazarides drive home that Banksy exists within a capitalist infrastructure. Nonetheless, titbits of the duo’s schemes, including fake news campaigns and successfully hiding in plain sight, are illuminating insights into the graffitist’s tactics.
In spite of its seemingly encyclopaedic take, Banksy Most Wanted eventually zeroes in on its mission. Who is Bansky? We learn the three most prevailing conspiracies, but they are lost in a repetitive and rather unkempt structure. Rouvier and Haley do ask the valid question: is his anonymity just another form of self-promotion or a necessary method of self-preservation? It seems, in the age of the internet, there is something reassuring in the fact that if you try hard enough, you can remain under the radar.
Ultimately, Banksy Most Wanted feels as though it has already been made, but does well to synthesise Banksy’s art with the cat-and-mouse game that is synonymous with his career. It’s clear this game is always about the chase and never the capture.
Banksy Most Wanted does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Tribeca Film Festival 2020 coverage here.