Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (2014)

DAVID ZELLNER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

USA, 2014.  Lila 9th Productions, Ad Hominem Enterprises.  Screenplay by David Zellner, .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , , Nathan Zellner.  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by , .  Film Editing by .  Independent Spirit Awards 2014.  

An isolated, disaffected Tokyo office worker (Rinko Kikuchi) is at a breaking point, the criticisms she receives from the boss as well as her demanding mother pushing her to grasp at straws for something to show for herself.  After watching a randomly discovered videocassette copy of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo, she comes up with a brilliant plan to make herself a success: not realizing that the film’s claim to being based on a true story is a humorous joke, she makes a trip to Minnesota to find the money that Steve Buscemi buries at the end of the film, which she believes is most definitely somewhere out there.  Arriving in the dead of winter to a place not quite a tourist paradise, she ends up destitute and broke, wandering the highways in a stolen motel blanket looking for the buried treasure that she is certain will solve all her problems.  This film’s examination of a slow descent into madness is also a non-judgmental look at a lonely soul made compelling by Kikuchi’s terrific performance in the lead.  At some point her perpetually cold response to the world around her might make her frustrating for viewers, but the fascinating execution of the very original story, as well as the great turn by director as the policeman who steps in to give her some help, will more than make up for it.

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