Kumiko is a meek office lady living in Japan who is unhappy with her life. Living in a small, messy apartment with her rabbit Bunzo, she spends her weekend treasure hunting and on one of her outings she discovers a mysterious videotape hidden away in a seaside cave. The contents of the tape, she believes, hold the key to the location of a lost fortune concealed in the snow swept landscape of a far away land called Fargo.
“Kumiko The Treasure Hunter” is based off a legendary true tale of a young Japanese woman determined to find the lost briefcase of money buried by Steve Buscemi’s character in the Coen Brother’s classic film Fargo. Going into “Kumiko” with the knowledge of this account would seemingly lead audiences to form a preconceived notion of what to expect, however The Zellner Brothers craft a film that instantly does away with these notions and instead takes you on a wonderfully weaved tale of intrigue and innocence gone awry, not unlike the Coen film that inspired it’s narrative.
Rinko Kikuchi instills a beautiful sadness into her portrayal of the titular Kumiko, a character that could have easily been played as laughable or ridiculous. It’s her performance that not only keeps the film afloat and the viewer’s eye drawn firmly on the screen. While the narrative and visuals are definitely strong, this at its heart is a character piece and a story of a woman’s steadfast resolve to uncover a mysterious fortune and in turn lift her out of her rut in life and earn her the respect of those around her (in particular her mother and employer).
Though it never quite reaches the cinematic heights is aspires to, The Zellner Brothers have crafted a visually striking and thoroughly enjoying tale of one woman’s determination and will in the face of adversity and mental stability.
8 out of 10.
Reviewed by Chris Swan.