Lasse Hallström’s waggy mutt tale is based on a true story – transplanted from 1930s Japan to contemporary New England – about a faithful Akita dog called Hachi. Hallström’s unfussy, effective film uses several visual techniques – dog’s eye-view black-and-white footage, sped-up time frames – to tell the often moving tale of Parker Wilson (Richard Gere), a music professor and family man who surrenders to the charms of dog ownership.
When Parker dies and his family sells up and moves away, Hachi legs it back to the railway station where his owner used to arrive home from work and keeps vigil there for almost a decade. Sensitively directed and rarely over-sentimental, this touching parable will likely ravish the emotions of dog lovers. Yet the film is as much about the emotional fallout of death as about a mutt’s loyalty and devotion. As a dog owner, I must confess to having had a large lump in the throat throughout. So call me soppy.