Saturday, 5 February 2011

Film Review: HACHI: A DOG’S TALE (2009)

Director: Lasse Hallström
Running time: 90 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): U

Genre: Drama/Family
UK release date 12th March 2010

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 5th February 2011.


I had better state first of all that I’m not particularly a dog lover, I’m more of a cat person, but I appreciate the bond that can exist between an owner and his pet. I should also say that if it wasn’t for the fact the Richard Gere appears in this film I very much doubt I would have watched it. Having said that, what I saw was a very heart-warming story that will most definitely not be for everyone, but for those that can appreciate it, it’s well worth a viewing. Here’s a very brief summary first before I tell you what I really think (summary haters please wait outside the railway station while I write the next paragraph).

Parker Wilson is a music professor at a university and he commutes by train every day. One day he finds a puppy wandering about on the platform. Unable to find anyone to claim the dog he takes it home. His wife, Cate, is not best pleased and tells him he must find the real owner soon. He puts up flyers and asks around but nobody claims the dog. He even asks Ken, a Japanese colleague about the dog. Ken tells him that he has a symbol on his collar that says ‘Hachiko’, which means ‘eight’ in Japanese. As you can guess, Hachi (for short) becomes the dog’s name. As the days pass the bond grows stronger between Parker and Hachi and Cate eventually relents and allows the dog to stay. Once fully grown, every day Hachi would follow Parker to the station and then go home until the evening when he would return to wait for his master. This goes on for quite a while and Hachi becomes a bit of a celebrity amongst those that work in and around the station. But something is about to go badly wrong and this will test Hachi’s devotion to his master. Of course I’m not going to tell you what that is as I really don’t want to give away too much.

You may be surprised to know that this film is based on a 1987 Japanese film called “Hachiko monogatari” by Kaneto Shindô, which is, in turn, based on a true story. There is a very nice musical score that complements the visuals perfectly and I love the occasional shots we get from the dog’s point of view. Nobody does a long stare quite like Richard Gere, and he was excellent in his part as Parker Wilson here. Also worth a mention are; Joan Allen as Cate Wilson, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Ken, Sarah Roemer as Andy (their daughter), Jason Alexander, as Carl and Erick Avari as Jasjeet.

Although this has the feel of a TV movie of the week, it is a very well done TV movie of the week. If anything the ninety minutes running time is a little long for the story and you begin to feel there is a little too much padding in there. But having said that I still found it a decent watch. Over all, although it is not for everyone, it did bring out some emotions in me that I rarely show and so I deem it… Recommended.

My score: 7.3/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page:
RT Page:

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