TAD 2014 Review: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
For a movie whose central conceit is reference to an acclaimed, iconic film, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is mighty original.
Surreal and hypnotic, beautiful and tragic, Kumiko is incredibly engrossing right from its picturesque opening.
As the title indicates, Kumiko seeks out bounty and trinkets and hidden treasure. Young, quiet, and particularly observant, she fades into the background at work and with her family. She is teased by coworkers and harassed by a mother who wonders when she will find a man and a steady career.
She doesn’t care for work or socializing and instead is fascinated by Fargo, and believes that the bag of money left in the snow from that iconic movie is really out there. Really.
But this Japanese surrealist tale isn’t played for laughs, though it does have moments of quiet humour. Instead, it’s a stunningly cinematic and immersive experience that grows increasingly more haunting. Kumiko, indefatigable and monomaniacal, sets out from Tokyo to Minnesota, determined to go to Fargo and find that cash. She encounters some incredulous people as she throws away time, money, and energy on this quixotic journey.
Kumiko also has a pet rabbit named Bunzo that she talks to; so that’s where she is at.
The introduction to snowy Minnesota is just one of many remarkable pieces of imagery in a film surprisingly well-served by a big screen and surround-sound. The camera frequent follows just behind Kumiko, her signature red, hooded coat swaying with her slightly awkward gait. She walks as if she is in no hurry and wants to see the entire world, as if no weather, no physical hardship will stop her from goal.
With a map and pluck Kumiko ventures, and the result of this simple, sure film is something mesmerizing and unforgettable.