Review – Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter


This review was first published in BMA Magazine.

The 1996 film Fargo opens with “this is a true story”, when in fact, there was no core truth to the tale. The Coen Brothers took pieces from real crime stories, weaved them together and leveraged the notion of a ‘true story’ to heighten the drama. Something shocks more if we believe we’re witnessing a chain of events that actually happened, when often with adaptations, storytellers bend the facts to enhance the story.

From the world of Fargo an urban legend was born of a Japanese woman who arrived in Minnesota in 2001 to find the money stashed by Steve Buscemi’s character. While the truth of the woman’s intentions in Minnesota have come to light (Google: Takako Konishi) it hasn’t stopped the Fargo related anecdote from spreading and inspiring the nihilistic but wonderful Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter.

Co-writer and director, David Zeller, presents Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) as someone who found their destiny in a piece of pop culture. Kumiko isn’t driven by greed, she’s motivated by a fantastical purpose to escape a world that doesn’t inspire. There’s a bittersweet inspiration to Kumiko’s fate that speaks volumes about the minutia of life’s pursuits between birth and death.

Zeller also challenges our relationship with the concept of ‘reality’ in cinema and whether the stark truth is worth sacrificing for bliss.  Add an intense score by The Octopus Project and striking cinematography by Sean Porter; Kumiko, is divine.


Cameron Williams

The Popcorn Junkie