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Hachi - A Dog's Tale


Stars: Richard Gere, Joan Allen, Sarah Roemer, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Jason Alexander

Director: Lasse Hallström

Although it's thinnish in plot, and often really too nice to bear, this is still a superior, well-crafted animal story that will leave few dry eyes in the house. Hachiko, a Japanese Akita puppy (a bit like a solid fawn husky), is sold to someone in America. His crate loses its label, Hachi escapes, and ends up in the arms of a professor (Gere) who plays piano and directs ballet.

It is evident that Gere and his wife (Allen) have recently lost a dog and that she doesn't want another. But, seeing the immediate bond between man and dog, she soon relents.

Once grown, Hachi each day accompanies his master to the station, and is there again waiting for him when he comes home. Training him to do other things, though, as Gere finds, is quite another matter. Akitas apparently only do what they want - almost catlike in some respects - and Hachi ignores all attempts to get him to fetch a ball. One day, though, he does it out of the blue - and you sense that his and the family's lives are about to change.

The dogs will win your heart or break it, according to which bit of the film you're watching but, at the end of the day, there simply isn't enough to the story to put in into the top bracket of its kind. That's not to say that its appeal, both simple and with something deeper to say about loyalty, is not effective.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Entertainment . Colour by deluxe.
91 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 Mar 2010