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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 17.07%
Average: 4.88%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 2.44%

1 review, 35 user ratings

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Hachi: A Dog's Story
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by brianorndorf

"Richard Gere and his tiny, furry buddy"
4 stars

“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is a poignant story of animal attachment, glazed with a sporadically viscous coating of sentimentality. Based on a true story, which was made into a blockbuster Japanese motion picture in 1987, “Hachi” has been Americanized, taking an account of lifelong affection to an attractive Northeastern playground, not to mention hauling Richard Gere in for some required star power. A circular routine of smiles and tears, “Hachi” is delightfully gentle and engaging, refusing to bloat the material past an elementary message of canine loyalty.

On his way home from a train station, Professor Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) comes across a lost Akita puppy wandering around the rails. Fearing a horrible fate if left in the local pound, Parker brings the dog to his disapproving wife, Cate (Joan Allen), who demands an effort made to locate the rightful owner. Growing attached to the dog, branded Hachiko after a Japanese symbol left on his collar, Parker swiftly bonds with his furry pal, spending the year developing an unbreakable friendship. Picking up on a commute pattern, Hachi follows Parker to the train station to see him off every day, returning in the evening to greet his master, much to the delight of the locals (including Jason Alexander). However, when Parker doesn’t return home one day, Hachi is left waiting for his master, with days turning into years as the dog patiently sits at the station, hoping his friend will return.

“Hachi” assumes a different set of goals than the spastic comedy stylings of dreck like “Marley & Me,” which also explored the connection between man and dog, albeit in a far more slapstick manner befitting a mainstream release. “Hachi” is a more specialized product, with director Lasse Hallstrom cutting into the heart of demonstrative canine devotion, as Parker comes to adore his four-legged pal in a way that goes far beyond customary pet appreciation. Hachi is family, assuming a position of attention for Parker and Cate as they deal with empty nest syndrome, while giving the professor an unlikely escort for his daily grind of train rides.

Hallstrom isn’t afraid to pull the cute card often, since Hachi is a gorgeous animal with knowing eyes and a lush coat of amber fur that begs to be stroked for hours on end. The chemistry between Hachi and Gere (who looks to be having the time of his life playing with the pooch) forms the spine of the picture, with their horseplay (including a skunk attack and television time) and acts of concern surprisingly organic, free of overt off-camera prodding. Hallstrom attempts to get into Hachi’s mind with a bizarre use of “dog-vision” POV for certain sequences of animal perception, but the majority of the picture stays human and overwhelmingly sweet, never plunging into mawkish behavior. Hachi remains a steadfast dog of curiosity and company, not a slapstick machine tearing up the neighborhood. His proud Akita heritage wouldn’t allow for such monkey business.

The final act heads into potent tearjerker realms, as Hachi holds out hope for Parker’s return, while the rest of the community moves on, taking care of the dog without intruding on his demonstration of loyalty. It’s wholly heartbreaking stuff, though modernized carefully by Hallstrom (the real Hachiko story dates back to the 1920s) and spread out to capture as many sniffles as possible. “Hachi” doesn’t exactly know what to do with itself when reality sets in, but I suppose that sense of disorientation mirrors the dog’s experience quite succinctly. Hallstrom yanks on the heartstrings in the final reel, but the sentiment feels earned, paying off a tender tale of friendship with a touching closer sure to encourage sobs and considerable more respect for the privilege of pet companionship.

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originally posted: 02/14/10 02:05:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/18/17 Clara Sue a wonderful story of love and loyalty. 5 stars
10/25/15 reginazervou When God realized Man was far from perfect, he created the dogs. 5 stars
1/04/15 Ghalied Broke down and cried.very touching.fantastic 5 stars
9/21/12 Craig B Fantastic movie. Even the hardest of hearts won't be able to hold back emotion 5 stars
8/16/11 praful khopade one of the best movie on dogs,very touching. 5 stars
5/25/11 millersxing unpretentious and well-crafted. perfect casting of dog-owner to look like his dog. 4 stars
2/28/11 Narayana great movie.made me cry for atleast half an hour 5 stars
2/06/11 jun hearts of steel will melt also... 5 stars
2/06/11 Akash A heart-touching flick dat truly potraits d meaning of a never ending relationship 5 stars
2/01/11 Favra Sarfraz Very heart touching, so real.. never felt like it was a movie. Picturised brilliantly. 5 stars
1/23/11 Linda Parker This story lets people know how smart dogs! Their love is a loyal love! 5 stars
1/22/11 Maggie excellent movie. Heartbreaking. Should not have kept dog outside, but based on true story. 5 stars
1/05/11 Michael Sultana Best dog movie I have ever seen .... watched it 5 times already 5 stars
12/18/10 paul very well done; hard to keep a dry eye; touching story of loyalty of "man's best friend" 5 stars
11/23/10 Stella T How could they leave this dog in the barn the entire time. Horrible people! 1 stars
11/22/10 kailey That movie almost made me cry. It was great! 5 stars
10/30/10 Rustydog Not the typical talking dog-funny human story. Just one about love and loyalty. 5 stars
9/28/10 John C. Haven't stopped thinking about this movie having three dogs of my own. 5 stars
9/25/10 Rustydog If have have had a close bond with a dog, you will understand this film.. 5 stars
9/22/10 Devout Tear Jerker. Tears and swollen heart. I'd like to hear his real bark. 5 stars
9/20/10 Garth Lea I love dogs; great movie. 5 stars
7/25/10 Pat Saddest movie I've EVER seen. Bawled like a baby. 5 stars
6/29/10 Lisa g Wonderful, tragic, melted my heart, sad, yet beautiful love story 5 stars
4/22/10 Carol Great story, not given enough press 1st time around 5 stars
4/20/10 David If was truly a story about a dog, why did they have to transplant it to the US? 3 stars
4/19/10 Miss Horror Watched it twice, cried both times. I even hugged my Husky 5 stars
3/30/10 Miller What a movie don't like dogs but love 2 have one like that ? 5 stars
3/30/10 Astrid Really really a good movie!! 5 stars
3/25/10 Rich Just lost a dog, had to walk away a couple times 5 stars
3/25/10 Jose I usually do not cry but this one I cannot help crying! 5 stars
3/06/10 icy very touching i cried too much i seen it twice and i love it coz i like dogs i have 3 dogs 5 stars
3/06/10 Mick A true tearjerker. People should see it!! 5 stars
3/06/10 Ron Newbold Yes you cry, but an excellent story and worth it 5 stars
6/28/09 Nancy Beautifully made, wonderful characters 5 stars
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  DVD: 09-Mar-2010



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