"Kumiko The Treasure Hunter" (2014 release; 104 min.) brings the story of Kumiko. As the movie opens, we see Kumiko walking alongside the beach with a map, eventually retrieving a VHS tape from under a rock. It turns out to be the movie "Fargo", and Kumiko becomes obsessed with it, and in particular the character played Steve Buscemi , who buries a briefcase full of money in the Fargo snow. Meanwhile, we witness Kumiko becoming more and more aloof and isolated in her day-to-day life, including her job as an Office Lady in corporate Japan. It's only when she is watching "Fargo" that she feels alive. Kumiko eventually decides to go to Fargo. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Several comments: the movie is directed, co-written by and stars David Zellner (his brother Nathan co-wrote the script). The story is a fantastical concoction that is loosely based on true events, and when I say "loosely", you should read that in the broadest possible meaning. The movie's initial 45 minutes play out in Tokyo, and Zellner captures the loneliness and isolation of the Kumiko character, still an Office Lady at age 29, perfectly. When Kumiko is caught trying to steal a huge world atlas from the library and is asked why, Kumiko passionately explains that "I am like a Spanish Conquistador, retrieving untold treasures!", to the shock of the library guard. The last hour of the movie plays out in the US, and captures the mood of the 'frozen tundra' and also the mood of the "Fargo" movie perfectly. When Kumiko is wondering the snowy fields, the movie becomes the anti-"Wild" movie: rather than finding herself, Kumiko becomes more and more lost. Please note that, like in "Wild", there are long stretches in this film where not a word is spoken. Knowing some of the background on the real life events on which this is loosely based, I was quite surprised with the ending offered by this movie Last but not least, there is a great instrumental soundtrack, composed and performed by Austin-based indie band The Octopus Project.
I head read about this movie, and was intrigued by it. Imagine my surprise when "Kumiko The Treasure Hunter" opened without any pre-release fanfare or advertising at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati this weekend. I went to see it right away and the Sunday matinée screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great. Which is a shame, as this is a very nice 'little' movie that is quirky and off-center, yet always entertaining if not intriguing. IF that sounds like it might appeal to you, you cannot go wrong with this. "Kumiko The Treasure Hunter" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!