Hachi: A Dog's Story (2 stars)

Haichiko: A Dog's Story

(PG) 93min

Lasse Hallstrom, director of My Life As A Dog, returns to his canine roots with Hachi: A Dog’s Story, an unashamedly sentimental version of the story most Scots would recognise as Greyfriars Bobby. The cited real-life inspiration for Hallstrom’s pet-sploitation flick comes from 1920’s Japan, where Hachi was known as a faithful dog who waited nearly ten years for his master’s return.

Transported to an idyllic Rhode Island setting, this version features Richard Gere and Joan Allen as parents Parker and Kate Wilson, who adopt a puppy found lost in the local railway station. Man and his best friend bond, but are not destined to be permanent companions, leading Hallstrom’s weepie into a final fifteen minutes which feel like one long howl.

Much like Marley and Me, but without a jolly screen couple to disguise the film’s maudlin nature, Hachi’s simple story feels one note and repetitive, never working through notions of Hachi’s role in family or community with any resonance. The dog, at least, is cute, and Richard Gere seems surprisingly frisky too, and a particular good sport for a scene in which a skunk excretes on his prostrate form.

General release from Fri 12 Feb.

Haichiko Trailer

Hachi: A Dog's Tale

  • 2 stars
  • 2009
  • USA / UK
  • 1h 33min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Lasse Hallström
  • Written by: Stephen P Lindsey
  • Cast: Chico, Layla, Forrest, Richard Gere, Joan Allen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Sarah Roemer, Jason Alexander, Erick Avari

This maudlin pet-sploitation flick transports the 1920s Japanese story of a faithful dog who waited nearly ten years for his master's return, to an idyllic Rhode Island setting.

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