Hachi and a Silver Fox
A cute dog and a silver fox may be cinema gold but "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" is more than just the appeal of the fluffy breed of Akita dogs and Richard Gere. This is the touching story of one man and his dog based on an equally touching true story which director Lasse Hallstr├Âm has brought to the big screen using his talent when it comes to gentle, emotional and touching stories with beautiful cinematography and scenes which radiate warmth. But as such this movie will not be for everyone as it does feel like there is a continual warm glow, there is a touch of humanisation when it comes to Hachi and Richard Gere is in very relaxed mode as he is bathed in more warm lighting than I have seen in a long time.
Arriving back at Bedridge train station Professor Parker Wilson (Richard Gere - Brooklyn's Finest) discover a lost Akita pup wandering on the platform. With no one to look after the lost puppy Parker takes him home much to the annoyance of his wife Cate (Joan Allen - Death Race) who doesn't want a dog in their home. But her annoyance softens when she realises that Parker has fallen for the pup which he names Hachi. As the years go by Parker and Hachi become inseparable, with Hachi accompanying him to the train station each morning and then returning to wait for his arrival home in the evening, making friends with many of the locals who see him every day loyally waiting for his master's return.
As already mentioned "Hachi" is in fact based on the true story of a Japanese professor who in the 1920's took an Akita dog as a pet and their bond became legendary. Of course this has been altered, we now have the story set in America and some of the finer points have been changed but the essence of this tale is still present and to be honest it is a remarkably simple tale of the bond which forms between a man and his dog. There is more to "Hachi" than just this and if you don't know the story then there is a heart breaking surprise which comes along. But it is well worked as we witness how deep the bond is between Hachi and Parker, loyal to his master no matter what. To explain any more would spoil what is a surprising twist and one which I can assure you will make you remember "Hachi" long afterwards.
Now you have to say that most movies which feature a dog usually have scenes of canine chaos and to be honest "Hachi" is no different. Throughout the story we have scenes of the young pup getting up to mischief, be it destroying a model building or whimpering all night long. And there is also the whole cuteness thing be it Hachi as this fluffy puppy or as a grown dog who makes his rounds on the way home from the train station to get treats from the local butcher. But the great thing is that none of this dominates the story but adds moments of expected humour which bring a smile to your face.
It is credit to director Lasse Hallstr├Âm that he manages to bring in these moments of expected lightness yet never allows it just to be about these amusing moments. It's also credit to Lasse Hallstr├Âm that he manages to deliver this simple tale in such a way that we connect with both Parker and Hachi. It means that we can really feel the bond which forms between them, not only Parker's love of his dog but also Hachi's love and loyalty to his master. And as the tale progresses you begin to realise that connection is much deeper than you first think as shown in the scene when Hachi suddenly decides to play fetch with Parker having never done so before.
Now there is a surprising amount of star power in "Hachi" you have Joan Allen as Parker's wife, Sarah Roemer as his daughter and in supporting roles you have the likes of Erick Avari, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Jason Alexander and Davenia McFadden names which may not be so recognizable but their faces certainly are. But "Hachi" is a movie all about Richard Gere as Parker and his Akita dog and it is one of Gere's more enjoyable performances from the last few years. Ironically he doesn't actually do much but what he does is the most important thing and in a relaxed way gets across how much Parker loves Hachi, that simple thing makes this tale believable and natural as well as heartbreaking. And as for the various dogs which play Hachi through the years, well other than being unbelievable cute they are also frighteningly good at delivering that deeper connection between Hachi and Parker.
What this all boils down to is that "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" is a surprisingly enchanting movie which manages to take a simple tale of the bond between man and dog and make it something very personal and greater than many other movie about a man and his dog. And at the same time it also manages to bring in all those expected elements of canine cuteness and chaos without every becoming just an amusing series of doggy anarchy.
Tags: Dog Movies