Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (12A)

Directed by David Zellner
Picturehouse, Liverpool
20th February - 26th February 2015

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Someone commented that this film registered 11 on the quirkometer. I would not disagree!

From the first few moments at the beginning, which consisted of video tape interference, it was a joy to watch.

It was very slow-pace and wistful, with awe-inspiring cinematography by Sean Porter, which made it even more appealing.

Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) a young Japanese woman, who appeared to have Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour (OCB), in wanting to retrieve the money stashed in the snow during the Coen Brothers' film Fargo. She could not comprehend the fact that it was a scene from a movie and not part of real life.

She is a loner amid the city life of Tokyo, disengaged from her work colleagues and her mother, who cannot comprehend why she does not have a boyfriend does not have baby and is not married. No wonder Kumiko shies away from this pressure to conform. Her only friend is Bunzo, a bunny rabbit.

It is a compelling performance by Kikuchi, who is ever-present throughout the 105 minutes.

There are a number of symbolic touches during the film, for instance, when Kumiko flushes a mangled copy of the Fargo VHS tape down the toilet. It made me think about the article I read last week about the limited time span of technology, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Her fixation leads to her travelling to Minnesota to find the 'hidden money'.

On the way to the destination she encounters a number of American oddball characters but who are friendly towards her. notably a policeman, played by the film's co-writer David Zellner, who implausibly buys new winter clothing for her, soon after meeting her.

A particularly amusing scene occurs when the policeman, who is having communication problems with Kumiko, due to her limited command of English, drives her to a Chinese restaurant, thinking that Chinese people can readily speak Japanese!

Cinematographer Porter excels in the frozen landscapes of Minnesota, with sumptuous shots of snow covered forests. Abstract in the extreme.

The last sequence of Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is even more dreamlike than what had preceded it. A fitting end to a wonderful film.

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