Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

DRAMA; 1hr 45min (Japanese with subtitles, English)

STARRING: Rinko Kikuchi, David Zellner

Fortune hunter: Kikuchi

Obsession feeds on isolation and 29-year-old Kumiko (Kikuchi) is an island unto herself. Human contact is an anathema, her lowly office job is a burden and her only companion is her pet rabbit, Bunzo. Kumiko is indifferent, for she has a greater life purpose. Convinced by her repeated viewing of a scene in the Coen brothers’ movie Fargo, that Steve Buscemi has buried a fortune in frozen Minnesota, she makes her way there with her hand-stitched map to collect her destiny. “I,” she tells a disconcerted security guard, “am like a Spanish Conquistador.”


In the manner of Fargo itself, Minnesota is bleak and peculiar (director David Zellner plays a kindly lawman; his co-writer brother Nathan also appears). The penniless Kumiko is even more out of place there than she was back in Tokyo, where her bridges are by now charred and smoking ruins. She has staked her life on a wild-goose chase, and her unbudgeable dedication to it, keenly sensed by a withdrawn yet hotly resistant Kikuchi, graphically documented by Zellner and ominously scored by The Octopus Project, digs shiveringly deep.