Released earlier this year, after debuting back in 2014’s Sundance Film Festival and kicking it around the global festival circuit, David Zellner’s Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is a gorgeous and intriguingly remote fable with bizarre elements inspired by true events. After finding a tattered VHS copy of Fargo on a beach, Kumiko becomes obsessively convinced that the depicted cash-loaded briefcase buried in the snow is real and sets out across the globe to retrieve it.
Kumiko is a subdued showcase for star Rinko Kikuchi, getting to show an even more acute sense of isolation than we’ve witness in her Oscar-nominated turn in Babel. As the surroundings become more claustrophobic and disorienting, Kikuchi keeps us invested by pushing Kumiko’s resolve. Call it insanity or mental clarity, Kikuchi just drives forward.
Under Zellner and lenser Sean Porter, the film hosts consistently absorbing visuals, enhancing Kumiko’s emotional solitude with a scope surprising to the film’s modest intentions. Awarded at Sundance, the score from The Octopus Project keeps the tension high with dizzying effects, cuing us in to Kumiko’s quietly bubbling rage.
It’s a unique film that builds its own aura of myth with all of these elements and gives us a sterling performance from an actress we get too little of stateside.
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is available now on Amazon Prime!