“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” Review ✦✦✦✦✧

18 January, 2016

Director: David Zellner
Screenwriters: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
Director of Photography: Sean Porter
Cast: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube

Synopsis: A Japanese woman who develops an unhealthy obsession with the movie Fargo convinces herself that it’s actually a treasure map which will lead her to a hidden fortune. After figuring out the coordinates via her worn-down VHS tape, she travels to North Dakota on a quest to find the money.

Kumiko Review:

A curious cross-cultural art piece that turns a rather depressing real life story into an unusual adventure tale, “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” proves that cinema really can make the mad appear sane as we are taken into the world of a clearly delusional character who is obsessed with a movie to the point of insanity. While undoubtedly a patience-testing and peculiar film, “Kumiko” is a space to dwell on the many passions of existence. As a child, it’s not uncommon to scribble down fantastical fictions or to come up with bizarre subplots for things that are often too vague to fully comprehend and yet, as an adult, many are expected not to waste time on such matters.

There’s something rather enrapturing about watching a woman whose unconventional view on life makes her reject everything dull about adulthood. Kumiko would rather be trekking through the snow on a quest to find buried treasure than settling down with a husband and stable job and it’s the pressures of expectation that ultimately driver her mad. The film combines a jumble of ideas that miraculously come together without overstepping the boundaries. Sometimes “Kumiko” can seem blank or detached, other times warm and endearing. There’s even a low-grade thriller quality to it in scenes where the title character fanatically watches her beloved “Fargo” VHS tape.

“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” is an experience that a lot of movie lovers can relate to as its narrative promotes a message of cinematic triumph in times of real life adversity. When viewed with the knowledge of the actual fate of the woman who inspired the story, it feels like an extremely sympathetic take on a tale of instability and mental illness. For those who really buy into the idea of the ‘American Dream,’ it can be impossible to resist the allure of such idealism; a fact underscored in a latter sequence where the desperate Kumiko escapes reality in a moment of pure self-absorbed bliss.


Review Date
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter