The superlative ups and notable downs of New Zealand's most popular band are beautifully articulated in this extremely well-put together documentary containing salient observations about the unique challenges facing successful Kiwi artists.
Using gorgeously-shot footage of their historic sell-out 2019 Western Springs concert as a framing device, director Julia Parnell (The Chills: The Tragedy and Triumph of Martin Phillips) artfully charts the story (so far) of Six60, a group comprised of Otago University friends who lived at a certain address on Dunedin's iconic student-infested Castle St.
They came together originally as a jam-band for Castle St parties, an era illuminated in the film by an impressive amount of often-hilarious home video footage. Once they began writing their own songs and playing proper gigs, Six60 started attracting larger and larger paying crowds.
Industry recognition was yet to arrive, but the fan base continued to expand in numbers that couldn't be ignored, and their ambitions calcified. Internal strife would rear its head, but spectacular national success was soon theirs, even if it was tempered by some tragedy along the way.
Each member of Six60 has a varied and fascinating origin story, and these sections give the film much of its power. Equally pertinent is the look at the media condescension that initially met the band's rise in popularity. It's an all too rare scrutinising of our nation's waning - yet still insidious - tall poppy syndrome. More of this sort of thing, please. It helps.
The challenge with any band documentary is to feel like more than a promotional exercise – Parnell's clear-eyed approach very much achieves this, and she is assisted greatly by the subjects' willingness to examine themselves honestly. Their overseas ambitions may be as yet unfulfilled, but as this movie powerfully demonstrates, it's unwise to underestimate Six60.
Director: Julia Parnell
Running time: 92 minutes
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: A beloved Kiwi band's singular success story is told with admirable candor and reflection.