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Kumiko The Treasure Hunter



MV5BMTAzNzI1MTkyNzBeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDQ0NDU0MzQx__V1__SX1217_SY602_Released: 20th February 2015

Directed By: David Zellner

Starring: Rinko Kikuchi

Certificate: 12A

Content in a harsh urban reality. Immersed in a sprawling fantastical world. No matter the language. The genre. Cinemagoers often indulge in their love of a beloved franchise or film, taking great pleasure in dressing up as their favourite character or acting out a memorable sequence as they relish the iconic dialogue.

It’s a medium we often deem a great ‘escape’, a mantra that is perfectly embodied by Rinko Kinuchi’s introverted and jaded protagonist. With such artistic licence, director David Zellner integrates the premise of a Joel and Ethan Coen 90’s classic in ‘Fargo’, as he kookily blurs the lines between reality and fiction, whilst examining our craving for something meaningful in a life we can easily meander through.

Daunted by the vast scale of her homeland Tokyo and the lofty expectations relentlessly enforced by her overbearing mother, Kumiko (Kinuchi) professionally and socially struggles to connect. Retreating from the self-declared superiority of her co-workers and her insensitive boss and the conventions of ‘settling down’, her solitary comfort is a grainy VHS copy of ‘Fargo’.

Harnessing her focus on a particular sequence as a battered and bruised Steve Buscemi buries a case of riches into the snow, Kumiko becomes convinced this is a sign of hope. Her destiny to claim such ‘treasure’. Breaking from a regimented and demoralising daily grind, we follow her unlikely journey through the chilly confines of Minnesota equipped with her own hand-stitched map and colourful dress sense, determined to reach her prized destination.

A peculiar narrative that in other hands could have its admittedly eccentric qualities accentuated, Zellner provides a dialled-down visual counterpoint of exquisitely static camerawork, emphasising the often muted nature and figure movements of its central figure.

The grounded disconnect jarring with such fairytale delusions, through its icy, withdrawn aesthetic and involving score from The Octopus Project which is in turn playful (reminiscent of classic Nintendo games) and haunting, Zellner subtly explores its outstanding theme.

Navigating through the occasional, awkwardly staged comic obstacle in her path, Rinko Kikuchi’s Kumiko for all her tragic desperation and imperfections is an empathetic character whom we can all relate to. Her silent discontent for the tedium of her job. Her sense of adventure to validate her own existence.

As the film draws to a close, Shirley Venard’s considerate widow and her poignant interpretation of Kumiko’s quest is perhaps the most telling line.

‘It’s all fancy loneliness’.






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