Art House Film Wire loves animals, so we are celebrating them during every Monday in December. Movie Pet Monday, and here’s our first entry!
“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” (2009) – “Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative.” – Mordecai Siegal, author
In Parker Wilson’s (Richard Gere) case, he falls into this wonderful twist of fate at Bedridge Station on one particular night in New England. While walking the platform on his routine train stop, he meets Hachi, a homeless Akita puppy. With no owner to immediately claim him, Parker takes in this little guy (who blurts out occasional squeaks) home for just one night.
Much to the chagrin of Parker’s wife, Cate (Joan Allen), Hachi stays one night and then the next, and then the next. Finally, with no owner to be found, and Cate observing how attached Parker is to his new canine friend, she agrees that Hachi can be part of the Wilson family.
Director Lasse Hallstrom (“The Cider House Rules” (1999), “Chocolat” (2000)), with a proud history of directing heartfelt films, feels right at home telling this story of: Man finds Dog, or is it Dog finds Man? This movie delves into sweet, syrupy territory as we see Parker and Hachi watch a New York Yankees game in front of the TV and try (in vain) to play fetch in the backyard.
Hachi also comfortably lies down on Parker’s stage (Parker is a music/dance professor at a local university) while ballerinas glide all around him. For any dog lover, Hachi is truly irresistible. With his thick, lush coat, gentle disposition and an uncanny bond with Parker, Hallstrom pulls on our heart strings with charming images and moments over an accompanying piano-filled soundtrack.
This Small Town U.S.A. picture also contains all the usual Frank Capra-like characters, including a book store owner, a butcher, a hot dog vendor, and a train station worker. They all appreciate Hachi, but none more than Parker.
Life couldn’t be better!
Unfortunately, life throws this family an unexpected curveball, and we, the audience, need to grasp the sudden turn of events. As pleasant as the movie’s first act grabs us, it’s the second that truly speaks to this remarkable story.
“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is based upon a real-life relationship of Dr. Eisaburo Ueno’s and his dog Hachiko in Tokyo, Japan during the 1920s, and there’s no question, that this movie is a timeless tearjerker. Bring your tissues. A lot of them.
Image and trailer credits: Sony Pictures Classics