Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is a tear-jerker about a lovable dog which are almost always box office winners as Marley & Me proved last year. Hachi is a drama based on the true story of a college professor’s bond with the abandoned dog he takes into his home. It’s an American take on the story of Hachiko – the famous Akita from Japan who continued to come to meet his master at the train even 9 years after his death. There’s a statue memorializing the dog in Japan where it’s a well known story. Those who know the legend will realize where the story is heading, but it plays out effectively because Hallstrom handles the tear jerking moments discreetly.
Hachi is a loving but willful companion. For instance, he refuses to play fetch, despite Parker’s many training attempts. He also ignores his master’s instruction not to follow him to the train station for work every day. He even shows up again promptly at 5 p.m. to wait for Parker to step off the train again. One of the things that sets this movie apart from the other movies that involve animals is how they stuck to reality instead of throwing in some hard to believe elements here and there just to make it more entertaining. Unlike other Japanese remakes, this movie actually gives credit to the original story so that you don’t get the sense that Hollywood wants to call it its own. All the actors in the movie do a superb job in making you feel as if you were a part of the community embracing the dog.
I don’t think I’m giving anything away in saying that Richard gere’s character, Parker, dies about two-thirds of the way through the film — after all, it’s the dog’s behavior after his master’s death that made his story so unforgettable. When I looked around the theater though, every single person was crying and I saw a lot of red eyes as I left the Men’s restroom. The film really amps up the pulling of heartstrings at this point, as the dog continues his increasingly grim journey to the train station every afternoon, eternally hopefully that his master will greet him again. However, it’s also a heartwarming tale of loyalty, about how people and dogs are more than just friends and, I guess most of all, about how a dog’s love for its master never fades.
Richard Gere was fantastic in this movie, he bonded really well with the dog and it never felt like watching an actor at all, it genuinely seemed to be a movie with his own dog. Hachi is a film without explosions, computer graphics, and violence. A family film with a message. Of course, this might not attract everybody, providing that majority of movie audience today is highly dependent on fast paced, action packed scenes, and aggressive, often rude highlights of any other nature. However, for those who can do without it, and keep alive their interest even in a simple story, who won’t shy away from emotional involvement, they shall easily find themselves consumed by its mere beauty and warmth. But it is the pacing which most cripples the film. At least a dozen slow fade blackouts exaggerate the emotional side of the film, thus, lessening the impact. The passage of time is portrayed very poorly, with nearly 15 years passing and few physical alterations made in any human character. These are just small nitpicks though in an otherwise great film.