Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter , drama, not rated, in English and Japanese with subtitles, Jean Cocteau Cinema, 3 chiles
Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi), a humble office worker, lives a solitary existence in Tokyo. Every night, she locks herself in her small apartment where she lives with her pet rabbit, Bunzo, with whom she shares her meals. One day, she discovers a battered VHS tape of the Cohen brothers’ film Fargo stashed in a coastal cave. She studies the movie intently, taking notes, particularly about the scene in which Steve Buscemi’s character buries a briefcase full of money in the snow along a fence somewhere in Minnesota. Because Fargo states at its beginning that it’s based on a true story, she believes the money must really be there. Convinced that it’s her destiny to find it, she takes the company credit card her boss has given her (with instructions to buy his wife something nice for their anniversary) and uses it to finance a trip to America. Armed with a map of the region, a copy of
Fargo , a compass, and the belief that she is like a modern-day conquistador in search of gold, Kumiko sets off on her quest.
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is based on a true incident: the unfortunate tale of Takako Konishi, a Tokyo office worker whose dead body was found in a field in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, in 2001. Konishi was alleged to have seen Fargo and was searching for the money when she died, although the real circumstances are that she suffered from depression and committed suicide. But this film is not as bleak as the story that inspired it. Elements of humor are interjected throughout — as when Kumiko arrives in America and engages in an inappropriate, one-sided conversation with two tourist agents, one of whom doesn’t know the meaning of the initialism TMI (too much information), but Kumiko speaks little English and cannot understand what he says. Kikuchi, who also served as the film’s executive producer, plays Kumiko as sullen and disaffected with downcast eyes and a nervous demeanor. She avoids people as best she can and is uncomfortable in their presence.
On one hand, this is a story about a woman who has succumbed to a delusion. On the other, it’s a fable about following one’s passion, no matter the cost. Kumiko, wrapped in a stolen blanket, risks the brutal Minnesota winter to chase her dream. Although it’s a drama, director David Zellner, working from a script he co-wrote with Nathan Zellner, infuses the film with moments of pure fantasy, such as how Kumiko discovers the VHS cassette and a late sequence whose meaning is left to the viewer to decode (a possible interpretation offers dreamers like Kumiko some hope against the odds).
Remote branch: Rinko Kikuchi