A little film from director Lasse Halstrom ("The Cider House Rules") that appears to be going direct-to-video (imdb.com lists no theatrical release in the US), "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" is a sweet little tale based upon a 1987 Japanese film.
Early in the picture, Professor Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) finds an adorable little Akita pup in need of a friend. The professor takes him home, and while his wife, Cate (Joan Allen) initially isn't pleased with the idea of a new family member, the dog is so ridiculously adorable that she has trouble saying no for very long.
The dog grows older as do the humans in his life, and each day, the dog waits at the train station for his owner to return home. The movie really doesn't offer much in the way of a plot, beyond the growing bond between Wilson and the utterly adorable (and I'm not even a dog person) pooch as both humans and dog get older. There is an emotional twist, although I won't give it away here - it isn't necessarily what one might expect.
Overall, "Hachi" has some sweet moments, but the second half is definitely a weeper. The picture is more than a little manipulative, but it (mostly) works (sometimes it goes truly overboard), thanks to solid performances from Allen, Gere and the dog. This is a quiet, subtle, simple (it runs about 90 minutes - too much more than that and it would have started to drag) little tale. The film will likely charm dog fans, as well as fans of the leads.
VIDEO: "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC). Sharpness and detail are quite nice, as the picture remained consistently crisp and detailed, if never quite crystal clear. A touch of edge enhancement was seen in a couple of scenes, but the presentation otherwise was free of specks, marks and other concerns. Colors (although a moments from the dog's point-of-view are B & W) seemed natural, although a tad subdued at times.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. The film is certainly dialogue-driven, with minimal (given the material, certainly to be expected) use of the rear speakers. The surrounds offer light reinforcement of the score, but audio is otherwise decently spread across the front speakers. Audio quality is above-average, with crisp, well-recorded score and dialogue.
EXTRAS: Nearly 20-minute "making of" and trailers.
Final Thoughts: A simple, quiet tale, "Hachi" offers a pair of good performances from Gere and Allen, but occasionally goes overboard into sappiness - it is certainly a weeper at times (especially in the second half.) The Blu-Ray edition offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras. Those interested should try it as a rental first.
The Film B-