When teenager James (Rory Potter) reveals he has a brain tumor, it comes as a shock to friends Summer (Yasmin Honeychurch) and Maxie (Rasmus King).
All three are in the middle of the Central Coast’s Utopia Valley concert to see artists like Lime Cordiale, Dune Rats and G Flip. Utopia indeed.
But he’s not one to take defeat lying down, he pitches the idea of a “bucket list” to see 5 more festivals this summer, hence the title of a Paramount+ film by director Macario de Souza (Bra Boys, fight fear).
What unfolds is an energetic coming-of-age story with a fine young cast and a number of stage cameos from performers including Bliss n Eso, B Wise, Peking Duk, Ruby Fields, Jerome Farah, Kobie Dee, and more. Handheld cameras dance to hip-hop, rap, electro, dance and rock music, all aimed at a Gen Z audience.
When in doubt as to whether you’re a target audience, lines like “Keep in touch on Insta, ay?” it should sort you out pretty fast.
Against the backdrop of rock festivals up and down the East Coast, we learn more about our trio of heroes.
James hopes to be an entrepreneur were it not for this damned diagnosis, with his worried mother (Briony Williams) trying to set him free as he navigates treatment; surfer Maxie (Rasmus King) is burdened by the tutelage of his selfish, drug-addicted brother (Kyuss King); and Summer (Yasmin Honeychurch) is a budding but shy singer-songwriter mentored by her friend Marley (Guyala Bayles) who is a rising star on the music scene.
There are ups and downs for the three leads with James’ medical diagnosis underlining everything they do.
“Some days I’m planning events… other days I think what’s the point?” – James.
Shot at real festivals including Big Pineapple Music Festival (Sunshine Coast), Lunar Electric (Gold Goast), Cityfest (Sydney), Yours & Owls (Wollongong), cinematographer Hugh Miller evocatively blends live music performances with dramatic action in the foreground.
The stakes rise for the trio as the action progresses, which brings them closer together and imparts life lessons.
Holding it all together for de Souza is the excellent cast he has assembled: Rory Potter for underplaying inner conflict, Yasmin Honeychurch for her vulnerability, and Rasmus King for her defiant zeal – the camera loves this guy.
At times the dialogue borders on mumblecore, another reminder, in case the rap didn’t remind me, I’m off target demo.
The film also marks the first screened film for Mark Fennessy’s new Helium productions and the first local film for Paramount+. On that front it’s a tick.
6 parties it works in its authenticity and celebration of a thriving local alternative music scene.
6 Festival screens on Thursdays on Paramount+.