Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

Fig 1 - Hachi: A Dog's Tale Poster
Hachi: A Dog's Tale is a classic example of a 'user-rated' movie, which exposes a fatal flaw in the Top 250 list in that some films are overridden by critical consensus. What this means is that by comparing the user-ratings on IMDB, to the uninformed it would appear that Hachi stands shoulder to shoulder with every other 8.1 rated film on the site. These films include, but are not limited to, Jurassic Park (1993), No Country for Old Men (2007), Stand by Me (1986), The Truman Show (1998) and There Will Be Blood (2007). This also means that comparatively, Hachi would appear to be a better film than any other that falls below this rating, which includes the likes of Jaws (1975), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Rocky (1976) and Zootopia (2016). Now, I realise I am splitting hairs by being so pedantic over this incredibly flawed rating system, however I am simply trying to get across just how far away Hachi is from any of the films listed above.

Directed by Lasse Hallström, the film starts off by following Hachi on his journey as 'luggage' right the way from Japan to the United States, where he eventually breaks out of his cage at a train station and stumbles into the hands of Parker (Richard Gere), who is unable to find the dog's owner and thus takes him home to his wife and daughter. Initially his wife Cate (Joan Allen) is reluctant to keep the dog, but since Parker and Hachi have become inseparable, she allows the dog to stay. From here on out I'd pretty much be spoiling the film, but you can make your own guess as to what happens to whom and it's likely going to be right...

Fig 2 - Hachi: A Dog's Tale - Parker and Hachi
What I slowly began to realise over the course of Hachi was the pure and simple fact that this film is unrelentingly average. It's the kind of film that could play in the background on Christmas day and nobody would question it because it is so innocuous. Having said that, the latter half of the film does take a predictable 180 tonal shift which somewhat makes up for the first half. However, by that point I'd already given up caring about these one-dimensional characters living their conflict-less lives. Even Marley and Me (2008) (of which I am not a fan) did more to establish any reason whatsoever to feel for the central characters by also focusing on the challenges of their relationship. In the case of Hachi, the film plays out as if nothing bad could possibly happen to this family, instead establishing what a 'truly special bond' Parker and his dog have made by repeatedly showing Richard Gere bear-hugging, massaging and bathing with him.

For the most part, although it is clearly a children's film, I was waiting for something, anything, to happen. But even when momentarily something appears to be amiss, the film alleviates the situation five seconds later to confirm that yes, don't worry, we're still playing it extra safe. I struggle to think of another film, let alone a children's film, that plays out so inoffensively. Hachi: A Dog's Tale will likely win over dog-lovers with it's grotesquely sentimental gush, but to the majority I would tell you - you're barking up the wrong tree...


Fig. 1 Hachi: A Dog's Tale Poster (2009) From: Hachi: A Dog's Tale - Directed by: Lasse Hallström

Fig. 2 Hachi: A Dog's Tale Screenshot (2009) From: Hachi: A Dog's Tale - Directed by: Lasse Hallström

No comments:

Post a Comment