KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER | MOVIE REVIEW

I LOVE THE SOUND OF THIS FILM – so intriguing – loosely based on a true story, KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER, follows a poor hapless girl who thinks the film Fargo is real and goes searching for the case of cash buried in the snow. I will let Kernel Nick fill you in – he was the lucky soul that saw it at the SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL, he apologises for taking his sweet ass time with his review for it 🙂 It does not have an Australian release date as yet, besides festivals (you can still catch it at MIFF). The film is owned by Palace Films though in Australia so we may be lucky with a release later in the year. It is rated M and does not have official classification as yet, I will guess at an M rating if it gets more than a festival release. Enjoy Kernel Nick’s review below……all the best…..JK.

 

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY NICK STANBROOK

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER is the latest, and largest project from the Zellner brothers. Its great to see some independent filmmakers start to gain traction and come out with a bigger release.

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER is about Kumiko, hunting treasure. Essentially that statement is true, but it just so happens that the treasure is the briefcase of cash that is hidden in the Coen Brothers film, Fargo.  The story unfolds, as we find Kumiko, living in Japan, obviously frustrated and discontented with her life and her job.. She returns to her VHS copy of Fargo each night, to try and gain more information on the whereabouts of the hidden loot. She eventually embarks on her treasure hunt.

 

FARGO MOVIE IMAGE
KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MONEY BEING BURIED FROM FARGO

 

It’s a great plot device. Dipping into a modern folk tale, encouraging the viewer to bring their own experiences to the film. As you sit there watching the film, you find yourself trying to remember the last time you saw Fargo, trying to remember all the details of the cash and its hiding place. Was it meant to be real?  Is there a possibility it could actually be there? It creates excitement, it really is a treasure hunt. The main problem with KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER is that it doesn’t utilise this. The futility of Kumiko’s life seems to dampen any hopes we could have. There is such potential for child like excitement, the possibility of adventure! However the search for the treasure comes out of desperation. Kumiko can’t handle her life any more, her dead end job, so as a last resort she departs on this journey.

This film is frustratingly slow. I understand that it sides us with Kumiko and her desire to go find the treasure. It is a good way of letting the audience in on her frustratingly boring life. It helps us to back her decision. The issue is, it is too slow. I was well and truly begging Kumiko to leave within the first 15 minutes. Not just the idea that her job is terrible and she hates her life, just her lack of drive and action is frustrating. I Feel as if it was drawn out too long, that the focus was her dissatisfaction with her life, instead of the possibility of adventure. If I was in the cinema by myself, I would have been yelling at the screen, telling her to pack her damn bags already.

 

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER MOVIE IMAGE
KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | KUMIKO (RINKO KUKICHI)

 

Hopefully without spoiling the final act. The ending is good. I appreciated it. It came as a nice unexpected way to both redeem Kumiko in some ways, as well as give closure to the story. Especially having made it through the monotony and frustration of Kumiko’s inaction in the first half of the film, the ending is somewhat freeing to both the audience and Kumiko. It is a nice way to remember the film.

I must add that this is a very well made film. The acting is great, the locations and cinematography are great the dialogue is on the minimal side, but with enough subtext that it remains interesting and natural. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed this film. I just felt that I could have enjoyed it more. A very interesting concept, but not quite enough interest to carry the whole film.  I understand that the pace creates a realness needed to stick with the concept until the end. If only some of the decisions were made quicker.

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER was slow, however the pay off in the end is enough to keep the film satisfying. Now lets go watch Fargo.

 

3 Pops

 

Sadly this film has no trailer I can find! Keep you posted….JK.