Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, directed by David Zellner is a touching film that at times tickles your humour bones, and at other points tugs at the heart strings. This is film filled with wonderful camera work, a hint of nostalgia for movie fans, and a lead character that enchants every scene.

The story of Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter follows a young Japanese woman by the name of Kumiko, who believes it is her destiny to discover the lost treasure of Fargo. Yes, Kumiko is of the belief that the suitcase of money that Steve Buscemi buried in the film Fargo is actually still buried somewhere in the snowy fields of the town. Leaving behind her restrictive life in Tokyo, she sets out on a mission to find the treasure.

Headlining this quirky little film is actress Rinko Kikuchi who plays the even quirkier Kumiko. Kikuchi not only delivers a heart crushingly addictive performance, but commands each scene with such joyous grace. The majority of her time on screen sees her mute, not because of an ailment but either because she would rather avoid people and focus on her mission to locate the treasure or because when she does finally come to America her English is sparse at best. This means that a lot of room is left for actress Rinko Kikuchi to act. So much of how she expresses is from her eyes. When she’s depressed and frustrated at home, the eyes almost seem to retreat from the world, and when she makes it to Minnesota, the wide eyed wonderment takes over.

Rinko Kikuchi is simply brilliant in this film. Not a moment goes by that you aren’t with her. The journey that you go on with her is one filled with discovery, empathy and determination. The unexpected emotion that seeps into you throughout the film is welcome, but also saddening. For a film that markets itself as a comedy I was surprised at just how much heart-warming yet tragic moments there were.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is also filled with a supporting cast of subtle, nuanced characters. From Kumiko’s boss at work, to the generous police officer in Minnesota, each character, while not as focused on or fleshed out as Kumiko, all add their own little slice of different. The interactions that she has with the characters in Minnesota are particularly intriguing, not only because of the language barrier but also because of why Kumiko is there in the first place. You try explaining to someone that you’re here to find the hidden treasure from a fictional film, and they don’t speak your language. An idea like that brings some interesting moments up for sure.

By this point you are more than aware of the plot of Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. You’ve probably at this point also guessed that I loved it. Perhaps my only gripe with it would be the pacing. Things are a little slow to start with, and for some this might make the film difficult to keep engaged with. But this is a film that follows through with its story, and while I was unsure of how they could ever pull off a satisfying/rewarding ending, I’d say they did a pretty damn good job.

The last point I want to make about Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is how the film increases in scale when the visual satisfaction is considered. Starting in the less than exciting looking world of Kumiko’s daily routine and evolving into a small Japanese women wearing her oversized red hoodie, stolen hotel bed sheet which has been turned into a poncho and then watching all of that trudge its way through the snowy tundra’s of Minnesota. That is something that can’t help but be interesting to look at. Director of Photography Sean Porter more than did his job when it came to adding another layer of life to this film, as did director David Zellner and writer Nathan Zellner/ David Zellner again.

I adored my time with Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. This is a unique film that offers up something different, a thing missing from a lot of films these days.

It’s for that reason, and all the others I’ve given in this review that I will be recommending Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. This is a wonderful film that I needn’t say anything else about; just that you should make the time to enjoy it.

Have you seen Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments down below. If you want to keep up to date on the rest of my ramblings, follow me on Twitter,@GavinsTurtle. Finally, I hope the rest of the day is kind to you.

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