Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter: DVD Review
Released by Madman Home Ent
Kumiko The Treasure Hunter finds itself obsessed with Fargo and never lets up.
It's the apparently urban legend of Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi), a young Japanese girl who works soullessly for a company that sees her daily strength and will to live being sapped. But keeping her alive is a daily viewing of a video tape of Fargo, the Coen Brothers classic which she pores over and tries to ascertain where the buried treasure may be kept.
Finally reaching snapping point within her work life and the over-bearing phonecalls from her mother enquiring about promotions or personal life, Kumiko makes off with the company credit card and heads to America to find the treasure buried by Steve Buscemi's character in the snow of Dakota.
Once the put upon Kumiko is free to roam, she finds that the Americans of Dakota are as oddball as the inhabitants of the film; from the people who meet her at the airport and try to get her into religion, to the bus driver with carpal tunnel syndrome who's unable to change a tyre, they're all here on display.
But in among the oddness and goofy moments, there's a small vein of sadness running through this piece, which has pathos and hints of tragedy. Kumiko is a sad figure, and while there's no attempts at using this for comic effect, the overall feeling is one of sympathetic frustration as the story plays out. There's a humour here, but it's a bittersweet one and it's one that makes you question whether Kumiko's on the verge of a breakdown rather than a genuine acceptance of her limitations.
Kikuchi plays Kumiko with an earnestness and a bowed head that sees you on her side from the moment the journey begins. As eccentric and as bedraggled as she becomes, you never lose faith in the quest in among the beautifully cinematography which makes the most of the conditions around Kumiko - from vast shots of ice to blasts of cold ice wind blowing across the roads, it's almost like the chill jumps off the screen.
Quiet and quirky, Kumiko The Treasure Hunter is a hidden treasure