Review: "Hatchi" opens Heartland Film Fest

October 16, 2009
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It would have been so easy to wreck “Hatchi: A Dog’s Tale,” the tender and quietly remarkable film that opened this year’s Heartland Film Festival.

For starters, director Lasse Hallstrom (have to mention that he also directed the great “My Life as a Dog”), rookie screenwriter Stephen P. Lindsey and the rest of the creative team could have packed it with big, dramatic scenes—blow ups and emotional speeches—that would give high-profile leads Richard Gere and Joan Allen a way to show off in the film’s trailers.

They could have given its titular Akita more anthropomorphic qualities and wacky reaction shots. It could have rescued at least one kid from a burning orphanage.

They could have loaded the film down with back story, underlining an obvious hole in the life of Gere’s character that makes him attach himself to this dog so completely.

They could have had at least one cheap crotch laugh.

Instead, though, “Hatchi” has that rare thing in Hollywood films: Dignity.

And it doesn’t sacrifice entertainment to achieve that. It presents a relatively problem-free couple with interesting jobs, a nice house, and a lovely-but-low-key daughter. It brings a very dog-like dog into the mix. And it makes us care deeply about all parties involved. As I said, remarkable.

Here’s hoping it gets the release and finds the audience it deserves.

For more Heartland Film Festival movie reviews—including video trailers—click here.

Your thoughts (On this or your favorite dog film)?

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  • Truly Moving
    This was a Truly Moving Picture. My wife and I loved it.
  • So Richard Gere
    I am so looking forward to this film. Hope it is released soon and in Australia. I have never been infatuated with any other actor apart from Richard Gere. This film is SO Richard Gere.
  • "Hatchi"
    My wife and I watched "Hatchi, a Dog's Tale" yesterday, May 16, a gloomy, rainy Sunday here in Missouri. Someone had recommended this film to us and of course like most women, my wife loves Richard Gere.

    But we weren't prepared for what we saw. We were not ready to be touched so deeply by such a sweet story so deftly filmed and performed. As you suggest, there are no embellishments in this production, and its perfectly-conveyed messages go straight to your heart.

    It obviously went directly to video -- but it is our hope more people will come to know of it and find out for themselves what a special story it is.
  • really moving
    I watched this last night on Hallmark Channel, and loved it. It truly showed the dedication an Akita has. I was sobbing at the end. Loved it!!
    • hatchi
      I also watch this movie last night an i was crying, this movie touch me like no other. Hatchi should be relauched ....
    • Wonderful Moving film
      I watched this film late last night on Hallmark channel and I was so touched and moved, I CRIED LIKE A WHALING BABY, I had to get off the couch for fear of drowning in my tears. For all dog loivers this is a must see !
    • Happy&and now so sad
      After having lost both are beloved dogs this past year this was truly a heart felt happy and sad film for both of us. So a warning is in order this film will grab your heart in remembering your departed friends and family that touched your souls.
    • Hatchi a dogs tail
      I watched the movie last night and I cried so hard the movie touched me like no other movie ever did. Please replay the movie I would like for my husband to see it because when I told him about what happened to hatchi and his owner my husband had tears in his eyes.please play it again
      • tugs at my heart
        This film aired on TV--and my husband and I watched tears roll down each other's faces. We have hugged our animals a bit tighter today. Well done! The best of unconditional love shown here.
      • Replaying
        Sandi: check your cable! We just caught it last night. Many tears shed, Becky

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