Given that most of my reviews are about horror films and books, I thought it time to review something a little different. Choosing Hachi to review is a difficult job. On one hand, it's a sentimental and drama-free film. On the other, it would be churlish and snide to ignore the message here - that it can take a dog to show us what loyalty means.
Richard Gere plays a university professor who lives in a nice town with his nice wife and has nice friends. He goes to work everyday on a nice train after speaking to the nice man who works in the nice train station (and is apparently the one staff member) as well as the other nice man who sells hot dogs outside the station. Then one nice evening, he finds a puppy on the platform which appears to have no owner. Taking the dog home to his wife who at first isn't too keen on the animal, he plans on finding the owner or someone to adopt him. Thankfully for the plot, his wife warms to the dog; Gere keeps him and discovers through a Japanese colleague, who are always handy to have if you've rescued a Japanese dog, that the symbol on the dog's tag means Hachi. And it's all very nice.
That's about it in terms of plot. The main bulk of the story occurs later. While most potential viewers will have an idea of what's coming, I won't spoil anything other than to say the film's biggest flaw is just how amazingly nice everything is. A little drama would have helped hugely. Instead, Richard Gere and his family live in the sort of strangely happy town that used to feature in the Twilight Zone.
A lack of drama aside, Hachi is more about the theme of loyalty than anything else. In that respect, it succeeds. And let's face it: nobody is going to watch this if they don't love dogs.
If you appreciate a decent tale told, for the most part, quite well, Hachi is worth an hour and a half of your time.