Hachiko: A Dog's Story
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Cast: Richard Gere and Joan Allen
This movie (which did not have a theatrical release) should only be viewed in private if you are embarrassed about other people seeing you cry, because you will bawl your eyes out while watching this. If you don't, then your heart is made of stone. It's based on a true story that took place in Japan in the 1920s, but for this version they had it take place in a small American town during the '90s. I remember reading or hearing about the story, so I was somewhat familiar with it.
During its transfer to a new home, an Akita puppy's cage is knocked over at a train station and the dog escapes. Now if I had moved and somebody had lost my pet, I would be pissed, but that doesn't seem to be an issue in this movie as nobody claims the dog as their own, which is a little surprising because this is a pure-bred dog. And totally adorable!
Gere plays Parker, a college music professor who discovers the puppy (or does the dog discover him?) at the train station and takes him home with him thinking he'll put up fliers the next day and eventually the owner will call and claim the dog. Allen plays his wife and is not thrilled about having a dog in the house and tells her husband they are not keeping it, so he better hope the dog finds a home soon. She has a change of mind and heart after nobody claims the dog and she sees how the dog and Parker are bonding.
Parker names the dog Hachi because it means "to bring good fortune" in Japanese and the puppy goes from little and cute to a gorgeous adult dog with an air of nobility. Every morning Parker walks to the train station to get to work and he lives in a small enough town that Hachi can walk with him, then return home after Parker leaves. Everyone in town knows Hachi and greet him with a pat on the head (or, in the butcher's case, a piece of meat). Everyday at five o'clock, Hachi is always at the train station waiting loyally for his master to come home and greet him.
One day Parker has a fatal heart attack while at work and Hachi is waiting for him for hours with a forlorn expression on his face until Parker's son--in-law comes to get him. This is about the time in the film where I start crying and my tears didn't let up until the end. Hachi keeps waiting for his master for the next ten years and becomes the town's pet as they feed him whenever they see him. IT IS SO SAD!