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April 26, 2010 | by  | in Film |
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This Way of Life

The Ottley-Karena family may not always wear clothes, shoes or saddles, but their lives are anything but bare. Wild but civilised, passionate yet humble, uncomplicated and intelligent, the Ottley-Karena family are, despite their limited livelihood, abundant in complementing contradictions—a family so far removed from the comforts of our own lives, and yet a family who, throughout this film, creeps closer to our conscience and emotions. They are the family that give This Way of Life its value. Rich in story, cinematography and character, this documentary film possesses a wealth of beautiful essentials, and exposes a genuine New Zealand humanity like no other.

The film tracks the lives of the Ottley-Karena family over a four-year period as they embrace their free-spirited, horse-rearing lifestyle and confront the inevitable capitalist complications that accompany it. Capturing complex family dynamics, beautiful landscapes, and the loss of child, home, and income, this film is four years of reality—a dream premise for a director, an engrossing slice of life for an audience, and one hell of a home video for the family.

The cinematography is effortlessly beautiful—a series of perfectly timed shots that captures the environment and people as they naturally occur. Deliberate orchestration plays no part in this film and the presence of cameras, lighting and wires appear almost absent in some of the shots of the children and their surroundings.

Negativity and conflict are realities that seem to unfairly follow the Ottley-Karena family no matter where they relocate. Yet, every complication is dealt with incredible humility and mildness—gentle reactions that in no way undermine the resolute foundations that make up this tight family. From gutting a pig, to appreciating their ancestors’ photos, the family’s essential bond is increasingly palpable in this documentary, and awe and empathy are unavoidably evoked as the audience watches the growth of the children, the growth of the family, and essentially, the growth of a movie so obviously devoted to the strength of its subjects. For a beautiful, emotional and engaging experience with New Zealand humanity, catch this gem of a film at Paramount before it ends.

Directed by: Tom Burstyn

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Comments (2)

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  1. Tom Burstyn says:

    Wow! What a beautiful review – I’m just commenting to say thanks for appreciating our hard work. What a feeling to be understood! Thanks!

  2. adonis says:

    I am waiting this movie, its story is so real, i don’t like unreal stories such as sciencefiction movies.

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