I’m gonna be honest here: I didn’t expect much from this. Everything about it screamed “Daytime Channel 5 movie!”; the poster is uninspiring, as is the trailer. But after seeing it, I can safely say it is anything but that, and is possibly the most heartbreaking film you could see this year.
Hachi is the true story of the bond between a dog and his master, a professor, (Richard Gere) whom he met at a train station as a puppy. Plot wise, that literally about sums it up. But its the small things about this bond that make it so effective. Every day, when the professor arrives at the train station from work, good ol’ Hachi is there waiting for him. I don’t really want to say much more about what happens (well, seeing as this is based on a true story there is nothing stopping you from googling it) because in my opinion it will take away the emotional importance of the scenes. Aaaand here comes another rant.
In a film like this, it is important not to be distracted, or the connection with the screen action is broken. So it was just our luck that in a screen occupied but about 15 people, 7 of them were unruly youths. They clearly had no interest in the film; their phone lights were shining throughout. In quieter scenes, one clapped without rhythm and made snoring noises. They were talking to each other like they were still in the Foyer. Laughing loudly so we all recognised that another member of the group is absolutely hilarious. Basically, ruining the experience for the other attendees. What I don’t get is, why do they pay to do that? Surely they could do it outside for free? But no, they feel like the civilized members of public who know the correct etiquette of a cinema screen enjoy their company and rowdiness. Fortunately, this movie is, dare I say it, even more enjoyable than their conversations and I still managed to be moved by it.
It is an understatement to say I was a wreck by the end of Hachi. I have never really “cried” at a movie; sure, I’ve shed a few tears at a number of them (Crash being the movie that instantly springs to mind) but I cannot explain the emotional impact this had on me. I initially thought it was because I am a dog owner myself, but looking out the corner of my eye to my friend made me dismiss this theory. He was worse than me – his sleeve was soaked with tears. And I have no problem admitting I cried. I actually dare anyone to watch this without doing the same; it is beautiful film making.
I re-read this review and still cannot believe that a movie that I expected to dismiss as an average animal movie has become one of my favourite movies of the year so far. The simplicity cannot be faulted, and the performances by all are great. I cannot recommend this movie enough.
Just remember to take Kleenex as well as popcorn.