Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog
This gentle drama from acclaimed Japanese director Yoichi Sai traces the long life and manifold experiences of a seeing-eye dog. The central character is a Labrador retriever, christened Quill because of the feather-shaped birthmark on his side. Though this canine ostensibly lacks the behavioral qualities possessed by most seeing-eye dogs, he does exhibit a peerless level of devotion that makes him perfect for the task -- particularly when he's assigned to work with an embittered, deeply hurt elderly man named Mitsuru Watanabe (Kaoru Kobayashi) and gradually teaches this new master to open up and appreciate life. Director Sai gained critical kudos for this film because of its simplistic, elegant approach and its steadfast resistance to excessive sentimentality and pathos.