Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014)

kumiko the treasure hunter poster 2014 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good looking, nice cast

Story feels like it should have been developed in a different means

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Studio:  Ad Hominem Enterprises

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  January 20, 2014 (Sundance)/March 13, 2015 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

kumiko the treasure hunter fargo rinko kikuchi

They say it’s a true story…a filmmaker wouldn’t lie? Right?

Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) is a quiet girl living a quiet, dull life in Tokyo, but Kumiko has a love puzzles and adventure and dreams of escaping.  When she finds a copy of the film Fargo, she learns of an undiscovered treasure hidden in the snowy North Dakota countryside.  Stealing a company credit card and booking a flight to Minnesota, Kumiko’s dreams are coming true…but not even “true stories” are real.

Directed by David Zellner (who cowrote the film with his brother Nathan), Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is a drama based on the life (and death) of Takako Konish (1973-2001).  The film premiered at Sundance and received mostly positive reviews.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is a better story than real life.  While initially there was some belief that Takako Konish did come to Minnesota to find the missing ransom money of Fargo, it actually wasn’t true.  It is interesting that a movie about a fictitious “treasure” is a fictitious biopic.  A ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

kumiko the treasure hunter rinko kikuchi rabbit

I’m setting you free so you can starve and be unable to defend yourself on your own

I like certain aspects of the film, and as a fan of Fargo, I like the basic hook of the story.  The movie is tense with Kumiko getting herself in more and more trouble in a storyline that feels like it fell right out of Psycho (minus Norman Bates).  She makes more and more mistakes…and they are eventually fatale.  The movie ends with Kumiko getting her dream and walking off into the sunset (as the real Kumiko freezes to death on the frozen tundra).  It is rather depressing, but also depressing in that Kumiko doesn’t seem as driven by sickness or depression in the script as much as her own bad decisions.

Despite her behavior, there is still something charming about Rinko Kikuchi.  I don’t necessarily feel sorry for her, but she does deserve pity.  She is constantly approached with help and the character rejects it.  I particularly like the director David Zellner as the sheriff deputy who does his best to help Kumiko (Nathan Zellner appears as one of the religious men at the airport).

kumiko the treasure hunter rinko kikuchi ending

I’m pretty much Lara Croft right now…

The movie does look good.  Like Fargo, the movie is able to utilize the open, snowy ground.  In addition to this, you get some of the modern world of Tokyo where Kumiko spends her days before going on the run.  It is a nice contrast and shows the absurdity of this young woman showing up beside the road in rural America with little English knowledge.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter doesn’t make it over the hump and become a good movie, but it was approaching it.  The film looks good, the performances were compelling, but the story feels like it is lacking spirit or self-reflection on the Kumiko character itself.  The reality of the events surrounding Takako Konish might make a better true story and an examination of how an urban legend is born could be another movie someday.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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