Friday, June 14, 2013

Day One Hundred and Sixty-five - Hachi:A Dog's Tale, "If you don't cry, you aren't human."

I'm generally leery when Richard Gere says he's going to remake a Japanese classic.

A few years ago he tried to remake the awkward dance comedy Shall We Dancu with Jennifer Lopez.

I was not a fan.

Here, he's trying to do the same with Hachiko, the real life story of a dog so faithful to his owner that he waited in the same spot for him day after day even after the owner died.

Despite my trepidations, I actually dug this remake... since it was less about Gere and his wife (played by Joan Allen) and more about the dog himself.

We see Hachi's life as a continuum from his time as a puppy in the mountains of Japan to his adoption by Gere's professor of music to the sad times where he stays alone, ever vigilant. It's not until the movie winds down that you realize the depth of devotion. What seems like a quirk of animal psychology hits desperately home when Joan Allen returns to town a decade after her husband's death only to find Hachi, old and gray, still waiting.

Tears can't help but flow.

I love the little quirks of this film, from the colorblind dog-vision to the small emotional moments like when Gere tries to teach Hachi to fetch.

At every moment if feels like there is real emotion, even from Gere, who is usually a one-note wonder whose range has been severely lacking the past decade or so of Lifetime Movie Network films he's made. Maybe it's just that I'm an animal person, maybe I'm just imagining it, but it works.

It's really rare for an American remake of a Japanese film to make the grade and rise above the culture differences to retain the charm of the original. Maybe it's just the animal, but they certainly succeeded here.

Quick shout out to Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa who plays Gere's Japanese colleague at the university. Not only is it good to see him get work, but it's also good to have someone to teach the gaijin a bit, since it is a Japanese story. Though, I could've done without their kendo match. Super cheesy.

If you get a chance, check out the original (which isn't on Netflix at the moment) or read up on the true story of the real Hachiko who lived during the 20's and 30's in Japan.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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