Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is charming, heartbreaking, and inspired by true events. It tells the story of Kumiko, a young Japanese woman, who becomes convinced that she can find the briefcase full of money that is buried at the end of the Coen brother’s classic Fargo. Kumiko is an homage to the Coen brothers on every level – the film was even written by brothers, both of whom appear in the move as actors too.
The story is well thought out. The script follows its premise through to its conclusion with an attention to detail that makes the sequence of events it depicts unsettlingly plausible. It has a slow pace to it, and relies on comic moments built around social awkwardness. This has a rhythm of its own, which helps the jokes to land and the audience to become comfortable with them.
Kumiko is a beautifully shot film. The photography is always interesting to look at, using camera movement and stillness to its advantage in equal turns. The shots often help to accentuate the jokes, which shows welcome insight from the creatives and crew. There is also important use of colour (despite the girl in red practically being a cliché), painting Kumiko as a bright splash of imagination in an otherwise bleak world. Music by The Octopus Project is mostly ambient and electronic, creating an icy atmosphere that really suits the action, even in Tokyo.
The acting is excellent all round, and really draws you into the world. The performances feel natural, and authentic; seeing the confusion and disbelief that you feel yourself about Kumiko reflected in the supporting cast of characters somehow brings you down on her side. Rinko Kikuchi (Kumiko) gives an enigmatic, childlike performance, shuffling her way from encounter to encounter and rarely looking anyone in the eye. It is a shock to learn that the character is meant to be 29 – but it somehow makes sense. She seems so much younger than that because she never grew up, and never lost the obsessiveness of a child. Credit to Kikuchi for bringing this out in the physicality of her performance.
The ending is really touching, and validates the entire story. Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is an engaging film – a tragedy played out in the snows of Minnesota that manages to stay warm throughout.
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is released nationwide on 20th February 2015.
Watch the trailer for Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter here: