Kumiko, The treasure hunter

In the film Fargo, Steve Buscemi’s character, Carl Showalter, buries a briefcase full of money in the snow alongside a North Dakota highway. In Kumiko, The treasure hunter, Japanese office worker Kumiko (Academy nominated Babel actress Rinko Kikuchi) finds a VHS cassette of Fargo in a hole under some rocks. “This is a true story” claims Fargo as it opens. So Kumiko believes the money is still where Carl Showalter/Steve Buscemi buried it. Her boss (Nobuyuki Katsube) treats her like a servant, asking her to make coffee or get him donuts or to pick up his dry cleaning. Her mother calls her and nags her to come back to live with her, since Kumiko is not married. All that makes Kumiko depressed. So she becomes obsessed about going to Fargo, North Dakota, to find the hidden money. She steals the company credit card, and boards a plane for the US. It is cold in North Dakota, she’s certainly not dressed for winter, and her limited command of English will become a problem. This is a slow-moving fable, but once Kumiko gets to the US, the clash of cultures makes things funnier. It is rather the clash between a weird character like Kumiko and the Americans that brings out the humour. Although it may not appeal to everyone, Kumiko, The treasure hunter is a charming fantasy with an amusing performance by Rinko Kikuchi.

You should know… Kumiko, The treasure hunter is based on Takako Konishi, an office worker from Tokyo who was found dead in a field outside Detroit lakes, Minnesota in 2001. Although her death was ruled a suicide, it was insinuated by the media that she had died trying to locate the missing money hidden in the Coen brothers’ film Fargo. There is also a documentary called This is a true story, directed by Paul Berczeller. As for Fargo, it is not a true story.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 Kumiko, The treasure hunter

Directed by:
David Zellner
Screenplay by:
David Zellner
Nathan Zellner
Rinko Kikuchi
Nobuyuki Katsube
Shirley Venard
David Zellner
105 min.
Rated General
In English and Japanese
with English subtitles

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