• Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014) - An eccentric experience for fans of surreal arts and experimental Asian cinema - 7/10 (17/07/15)

    Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014)

    "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter" is a stunning movie that mixes dramatic elements with a very special kind of humour. It also portrays the clash of Eastern and Western cultures and includes a thought-provoking dose of social criticism. Based upon an urban legend, this film is carried by its unusual and almost surreal plot and main actress Kikuchi Rinko who plays her role in a credible and gripping manner.

    The movie tells the story of the antisocial office lady Kumiko from Tokyo. She lives alone with her rabbit Bunzo who seems to be the only living being she cares about. She suffers from a bad relationship to her mother who puts a lot of pressure on her and expects her daughter to get married and promoted as soon as possible since she is already in her late twenties. Kumiko refuses to develop any relationship to old classmates, colleagues or singles. At her job, she despises her boss who tells her that she is getting too old to be his personal assistant. Kumiko has no future and starts to escape from the sinister reality by watching movies in her small apartment. One day, she discovers an old VHS copy of the American movie "Fargo" hidden in a cave next to a beach. Kumiko doesn't quite understand the real story behind the movie and believes that the treasure hidden in the film exists for real. She tries to get more information about the locations of the film in an awkward way. One day, she decides to simply take a plane to Minnesota by using the credit card of her company. She arrives in the United States of America and lives a cultural shock that only gets worse when her credit card gets blocked. Kumiko continues her journey without any money, very poor English skills and no clue where she really needs to search for her treasure. She meets a lot of weird characters from solitary widows to deaf cab drivers, gets confronted with weird sects and unpleasant restaurant owners and discovers new locations from shabby second hand shops to isolated chairlifts on her adventurous journey to Fargo.

    Apart of the exciting locations, the very solid strong cast, the unpredictable plot, the topics of the clash of cultures and the sinister portrait of a solitary woman, this movie convinces with a more and more surreal atmosphere that leads to an intriguing ending that can be interpreted in different ways.

    On the other side, the film has a very slow pace and notable lengths despite its short length. The movie lacks true highlights and doesn't have any real action or tension. Despite the great acting performance by Kikuchi Rinko, it's difficult to identify with the repulsive and weird main character and to get an emotional connection to the film.

    In the end, I can only recommend this movie to fans of surreal arts and Asian cinema. Don't watch this movie because you liked "Fargo" because there isn't any real connection between this film and the popular original apart of the weird treasure hunt plot and a few locations. Personally, I had a unique experience watching this eccentric movie in the key of David Cronenberg, David Lynch and maybe Denis Villeneuve but I wouldn't revisit it anytime soon.

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