This Way Of Life: Movie Review
Cast: The Karena Family, The great NZ outdoors, horses
Director: Tom Burstyn
A New Zealand doco about a family who live life to the full in the wilds of
the countryside may not sound like a riveting watch but This Way of Life sure as
It's the story of the Karena family - husband Peter and wife Colleen and
their six children, and their horses.
But it's also about more than that - it's about a simplicity of life and a
recognition of one's place in the world.
Peter works as a horse whisperer and lives off the land - when we first meet
him, he's skinning a deer in front of his son Malachi and educating him on how
the animal died so they can live.
Although Peter appears to have a philosophy about the world, it's clear not
everyone shares his views - within moments of meeting them, we learn that
Peter's father is evicting them from the family home because he's selling up.
Things get worse for the ever growing Karena family - but over the course of 85
minutes you won't find your spirit crushed at all.
In fact it's just the opposite.
Simply shot and presented in a restrained way, This Way Of Life will stun you
with its subtlety, honesty and heart.
As Peter continues to face problems, it's his philosophy and attitude which
he's trying to instill in his children which will shine out - Peter's a glass
half full kind of guy - and while he's honest about the issues he faces with his
father, there's never any doubt that he won't let adversity crush both him and
his loved ones. It's hard not to look upto Peter and learn from him - clearly
this is a man whose life attitude is beneficial and infectious to all those
And the kids clearly soar because of this attitude - I've never seen such a
brood of children so happy in their simple life; there's no sign of any mod cons
and yet there's not one single complaint as these kids are overjoyed by the
simplicity of nature (either on horse back or jumping on the roof of their
It's the Karena family way - the respect for nature, the chance to live off
the land and the lack of fear which will inspire you - whether it's living in a
shed after the house is burned down or bareback horse riding without helmets,
you can't help but admire their way of life (and even eye it up a little
This Way Of Life is a celebration of the family codes and morals; beautifully
shot, it shows what's great about the New Zealand countryside and showcases a
side of life - and an attitude - which makes your heart sing.
While some of the story's narrative leaves you wanting more information and
you may get a little frustrated with a lack of context over family rows, overall
it's easy to see why the film has been so lauded abroad in Berlin and deserves
to do well over here.
However - you may get a little jealous and be tempted to quit the rat race
after seeing the simpler life the Karenas live..