Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

April 12, 2015 at 9:07 pm | Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

This odd little film is hard to understand, let along appreciate, without some context. It is essentially a fictional story about a true person who believed that a fictional story was true. Kumiko is a depressed Japanese office worker who abandons her job and comes to Minnesota seeking the money Steve Buscemi’s character buried in the Cohn Brothers’ film “Fargo.” She believes the disclaimer at the beginning of the film that the story is real and she cannot be convinced otherwise. This story is based very loosely on the true story of Takako Konishi who committed suicide in the Minnesota woods after losing her job in Japan. It was widely circulated that she was looking for the “Fargo” money, though this was later shown to be a misunderstanding and media exaggeration. This film takes the fictional story of a real girl’s misunderstanding of a fictional movie and makes another fiction about it. The end result is an odd and often aimless film that can move at a pace in keeping with its deep winter setting. Looking not unlike Little Red Riding Hood, Kumiko makes her way from Japan to the deep Minnesota woods, encountering various people who just don’t understand her; they either try too hard or not hard enough but never just right, it would seem. This journey and these interactions are only mildly interesting, particularly as they all seem variations on the same theme.  The one thing that anchors the film is the performance by Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel,” “47 Ronin”) as Kumiko. She beautifully captures this woman’s profound depression and her descent into delusion. Kikuchi is a magnetic actress and is easy to watch here. However, most of everyone else is a caricature: cold Japanese boss, controlling mother, well-meaning cop. Kikuchi’s performance is almost strong enough by itself but not quite. In the end, this film was just too slow and too unfocused to really engage me.

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