Review | ‘Slim & I’ tells the story of country music queen Joy McKean

Slim & I | Dir: Kriv Stenders | ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Country music legend Slim Dusty and his wife trail-blazed their way across Australia for more than 50 years, sometimes on non-existent roads, singing about the country and the people who inhabited the remote towns. Slim left a legacy of over 100 albums when he died in 2003 aged 76, but what do you know about the woman who was the other half of the partnership?

Kriv Stenders, famous for the Red Dog films, documents the life of Australia’s queen of country music Joy McKean. As wife, business manager, songwriter of some of Slim’s most iconic songs and performer, some of the people interviewed said they knew what Joy would have been like without Slim, but didn’t know what Slim would have been without Joy.

The McKean sisters were touring with Slim Dusty and a couple of other singers when Joy’s sister Heather could see that the young larrikin who was interested in her sister was “a very good man underneath all of his shenanigans”.

Ninety year old McKean and grandson James Arenman are executive producers of the fascinating documentary and the filmmakers had full access to a huge amount of photos, home movies and videos that belong to the family. As well as brilliantly recreating the bygone times when they lived on the road making music, it is very much a film about family.

Apart from Joy and Slim’s two children, also included in the ‘family’ are many of the singers who have been influenced by both Slim and Joy, including Keith Urban, Troy Cassar-Daley, Paul Kelly and Missy Higgins, who perform in the film. After viewing this very Australian story, you are left questioning why this wasn’t made years ago.

To celebrate the opening night of Slim & I at Luna on SX on 10 September, there will be country tunes from Helen Townsend & Shannon Smith at 6:15pm before the 6:45pm film screening. Plus some complimentary dinky-di Aussie snacks and $10 Bundy 2-Ups from the bar while you enjoy the music!

Lezly Herbert

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