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Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is a story about a woman (Rinko Kikuchi) who works in an office and is tired of her mundane life where nothing happens and everything stays the same. One day, while taking a walk on the beach, she digs up a VHS copy of Fargo and takes it home to watch it. The tape is badly damaged but she is able to see the very beginning, where it says that it is a true story and Steve Buscemi buries the suitcase full of money in the snow. Apparently, Kumiko hasn’t seen many movies and she thinks that the “True Story” disclaimer is real and that the money is still out there in the snow somewhere. Determined to find it, Kumiko abandons everything, sets out from Tokyo and catches a plane to North Dakota in hopes of getting to Fargo.
Written by David and Nathan Zellner, Kumiko is actually based on the real life story of Takako Konishi who was rumoured to have been looking for the Fargo cash. This was disproven later and it was discovered that she was in Fargo for another reason, but the rumour became so well known that the Zellners decided to make this movie as an ode to it.
Kumiko’s fierce determination in her search for the treasure is such a stark contrast from how listlessly she lived her life in Tokyo; a complete outsider with no interest for anything. She doesn’t fit in with the other women in her office, nor does it seem she wants to, and she is reprimanded by her boss for her poor performance and lack of focus. She’s so disengaged in her life and she desperately needs something to spark within her. It’s such a poignant look into the lives of people that have just checked out. There are so many people that have no passion in their life, nothing that excites them or sparks their imagination. It’s really quite sad but we get comfortable and then, before you know it, so much time has passed and you look back and say, “How did I get here?”
Although Kumiko is misguided (and more than slightly delusional) in her quest to find this bag full of money, at least she has finally found something to be passionate about. She has taken her life into her own hands and is willing to stop at nothing to accomplish what she has set out to do. There is something very admirable about that. Aside from litterally looking for treasure, if people were to put this kind of effort and dedication into their lives to attain whatever goals they might have, there would be no option but to succeed. In that sense, this movie really is inspiring.
There are some slow moments throughout and this movie will not be for everyone, but the slow burning feeling of it leads up to a beautiful conclusion. It’s worth the time it takes to watch it. It’s funny that although the ending isn’t exactly what you would call a happy ending, I felt oddly content when it was over.
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is a gem of a movie about following your dreams, finding you passion and stopping at nothing to attain your goals. It’s also really sweet, quirky and has a great soundtrack. Give it a watch tonight.
Director: David Zellner
Writers: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
Stars: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, Kanako Higashi