Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter – Toronto After Dark 2014

kumikoKumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) is a 29 year old woman living in Tokyo.  She unhappily works in an office and is chastised by her mother for not yet getting married.  Kumiko’s only source of happiness is an old VHS tape of the Coen Brothers’ film Fargo, which she watches and analyzes with great detail.  Believing the film’s “Based on a true story” tagline, Kumiko travels to Minnesota, in the hopes of finding the bag of money that was buried by Steve Buscemi in the film.  Along the way, Kumiko meets a number of individuals, including a somewhat culturally insensitive old woman (Shirley Venard) and a helpful police officer (David Zellner). Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is based upon a real urban legend, in which a Japanese woman was rumoured to have traveled to Minnesota looking for the buried bag of money from Fargo.  Since I was already somewhat familiar with this urban legend, I had a good idea how Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter was going to turn out, which somewhat shaped my viewing of the film.  Even though Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is fine enough as a film, it is also a quite slow, and sometimes depressing, viewing experience. Kumiki is a woman on the verge of depression, stemmed from the cultural expectation that she should’ve gotten married years ago. She is forced to get tea and perform errands for her boss and her uncaring mother repeatedly chastises Kumiko over the phone.  The search for the money from Fargo is the only thing giving Kumiko hope and she refuses to believe that the film is not real and that her search is for nothing.  Altogether, even though Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is quite a slow viewing experience, it is also a highly reflective and meditative journey, with some quite artful cinematography.7 | FAIR 

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