There is certainly different types of documentaries, and this film one of this years 15 potential Oscar documentary nominees, This Way of Life directed by Thomas Burstyn is one of those films that is a shoot and edit type of documentary that often feels like you're watching someone else's home movie. The compelling part of this story is that the family is very different than most families.
The film is the story of a father/husband who is dedicated to maintaining his personal integrity, which means not giving into modern conventions of labor and consumerism. As a result he does what he can to live off the land and earning an income is a minimal concern.
So this man, Peter Karena, and his wife, Colleen Karena have lots of children, raise horses, kill their prey, and deal with a family that is trying to make life extra difficult through kicking them out of the family home and forcing them for a season to live out in the wilderness.
But oh yes...I'm forgetting one of the most important parts of this film. It takes place in New Zealand. The result is that the scenery is often absolutely stunning and there are times when I wish for subtitles to comprehend what's being said.
Will most people see this film and think "golly, I want to go raise my kids off the land and live a wild and free existence?" Probably not, although perhaps the message of this film (if the film makers intend for there to be one) is that there is another way to do life and perhaps in that there might be freedom.
The narrative of this film is limited, but I think some people would really relate to this film whether it's the landscape, the horses, a masculine image of fatherhood, or the dream of something different for a family.