Hachi: A Dog's Tale (U)

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The Independent Culture

Bland beyond endurance. Based on a Japanese story of canine fidelity, this stars Richard Gere as a music professor (yeah, right) who picks up a stray dog on the way home from his railway commute.

Wife Joan Allen isn't crazy about the mutt, called Hachi, and given Gere's doggy devotion extends to sharing a bath with it you can understand why. Lasse Hallström, a devotee of such mawkishness (Cider House Rules, Chocolat), paints an utterly unconvincing picture not only of Gere's family life but of the small town where Jason Alexander is the railway station ticket-collector who also falls for old Hachi. Please! You may also want to scream at Jan Kaczmarek's irksome piano trilling in the background. It is, in a word, exactly what you'd say to a dog: mush.