Photo courtesy of Sean Porter
Remember in Fargo when Carl Showalter hides a briefcase full of money in the snow? Kumiko does. In fact, it’s her obsession.
Keeping the film's “This is a true story” disclaimer in mind, she leaves her home in Tokyo for the New World in an effort to recover the treasure.
Shot in both Tokyo and Minnesota, Kumkio, the Treasure Hunter builds up to her journey slowly, as Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) continually watches and rewinds a beat up VHS to study the scene. In Tokyo, we see the life she leaves behind—a cage of an apartment, a job making tea and picking up dry cleaning for a demeaning boss, judging co-workers and a pestering mother (though you never actually see her mother). Her only comfort comes from her pet rabbit Bunzo and the thought of recovering the Fargo money.
Once she's in America, ignorant, but well-meaning Minnesotans, like a cop who isn't so culturally aware, give the film a shot of humor.
David and Nathan Zellner base the film on an urban myth about a Japanese woman in 2001 who tried to find the money Steve Buscemi’s character hid before being killed in a woodchipper. While you know it’s a fool’s errand, the Zellner brothers (David directed and they both wrote) do a great job getting you on Kumiko’s side. You want her to find the treasure.
Overall: It's a smart film that will fill you with hope in a very odd way.
One other thing: The Zellner brothers still haven’t met the Coen brothers.