Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

kumikoLooking for a strange but entertaining little flick? This is the ticket! It made the rounds at festivals last year to great acclaim, and it is currently streaming on all your favorite sites. And now the filmmakers are hoping for a bit of love during this year’s awards season. It is just odd enough to get some attention, too. There isn’t anything remotely like it. Based on an urban legend, it tells the story of a Japanese woman who believes the film Fargo is a documentary and sets out to find the briefcase full of money that Steve Buscemi’s character buried in the snow.

Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, Brothers Bloom) plays the very awkward and no doubt delusional Kumiko, 29-years-old and stuck in an Office Lady job in Tokyo. She has no friends other than her pet rabbit, and her mother constantly harasses her about not being married. So when she discovers a videotape of Fargo on one of her treasure hunts, she believes the silly opening title that says “this is a true story,” and painstakingly plots out where the briefcase is buried on a map. And when her boss gives her the company card to go buy his wife an anniversary present, she heads straight to the US and her waiting pile ‘o cash. Of course it is the middle of winter, and Minnesota, where she lands, is covered in snow, but she’s determined to get to Fargo and despite the weather and people telling her that the film was fiction, and the fact that the credit card is cut off and she has no money, she doggedly makes her way across the vast white landscape.

Kikuchi is wonderful as the lost in the clouds treasure hunter, and the cinematography and film score heighten the dreamlike sense of this strange story. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is unsettling in a lot of ways. It is somewhat slowly told, much of it visually rather than through dialogue, but if you like quirky, you should definitely see it.


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