Film Review: Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter


Kumiko copyKumiko is a 29-year-old office lady in Tokyo with no career prospects and no boyfriend, but she does have a VHS tape of Fargo and she believes it will lead her to “untold riches.” Kumiko abandons her life in Japan and heads to America in search of the money Steve Buscemi’s character buried at the end of the 1996 film. Convinced in her delusion, no one can convince her that Fargo was simply a movie and she perseveres on her mission no matter what obstacles she faces.

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is a unique film in its ability to be both massively depressing and uplifting. Director David Zellner co wrote the film with his brother Nathan Zellner, and they craft an intriguing tale out of the urban legend surrounding the real life death of Takako Konishi; who was found dead of a apparent suicide near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, in November 2001. It was rumored at the time that after a bad relationship break up and the loss of a job that Takako Konishi had been searching for the money buried at the end of Fargo. That story was debunked, but the Zellner brothers have crafted a story around this legend that somehow seems part neo realist cinema and part fairy tale.

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is a beautifully shot film; cinematographer Sean Porter’s photography lends elegance even to the most mundane of locations while making the fantastic outdoor settings look vibrant even in the snow. The acting is also top notch with special attention being deserved by Rinko Kikuchi in the lead and director David Zellner as a well-meaning police officer who tries to help Kumiko.

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter has been available on VOD for a little while now, but is certainly worth seeking out. This is probably one of my highest recommendations of this year so far.

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (2014); Director: David Zellner; Starring: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, David Zellner

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