KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER
(director/writer: David Zellner; screewriter: Nathan Zellner; cinematographer: Sean Porter; editor: Melba Jodorowsky; music: the Octopus Project; cast: Rinko Kikuchi (Kumiko), Nobuyuki Katsube (Sakagami), Kanako Higashi (Michi), Kyokaku Ichi (Library Security Guard), Ayaka Ohnishi (Chieko), Mayuko Kawakita (Ms. Kanazaki), David Zellner (Deputy); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Nathan Zellner, Cameron Lamb, Chris Ohlson, Andrew Banks, Jim Burke; Amplify; 2014-in English and Japanese, with English subtitles)
“A wonderfully accessible indie dark comic tale about movie obsessions.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A wonderfully accessible indie dark comic tale about movie obsessions, earnestly directed by David Zellner (“Kid-Thing”/”Goliath”/”Frontier”). It’s co-written by David and his brother Nathan. The fable is based on a real incident that’s embellished into this fictional narrative. The U.S. part of the film was shot in the same parts of rural Minnesota where the Coen Brothers filmed Fargo.
A withdrawn young Japanese woman, Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi), residing with her rabbit Bunzo in a tiny cluttered apartment in Tokyo, is obsessed with the Coen Brothers film Fargo. Her only thrill in life seems to be viewing on a grainy VHS tape the Coen Brothers’ black comedy thriller Fargo.
Kumiko works in an office, where her boss calls her “Office Lady” and treats her as a lost cause. Her mom calls her frequently, but only to browbeat her. Kumiko stands apart from others only because of her bright red hooded jacket and her vivid imagination.
Kumiko is mesmerized by Fargo’s opening scene of a briefcase with loot being thrown away in the snow field. Not realizing the movie is fiction, even if based on a true story, Kumico ventures to America to visit the wintry location where Fargo was shot in order to search for the loot. She tries to get by speaking a broken English, explaining that her destiny is tied to this treasure hunt.
Kikuchi’s intense and mannered performance makes the tragic story both credible and somewhat surreal, as the mentally unstable foreigner wanders in the North Country’s harsh wintry hinterlands in only a parka and sneakers and faces the consequences of such a foolish decision.
The result is a hauntingly lyrical film, that resonates as a strangely touching story about someone you care for.
REVIEWED ON 1/1/2016 GRADE: B