Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, film review: Quirky comedy has an undertow of sadness

(12A) David Zellner, 105 mins Starring: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, Shirley Venard
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The Independent Culture

There is a tradition of US indie films about outsiders from foreign cultures adrift in an America they know only from movies. David and Nathan Zellner's film has a similar feel to that of Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise or Dani Levy's I Was on Mars.

Here, the visitor from afar is a young Japanese woman escaping from a wretched life as an office worker in Tokyo. Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) has discovered a battered old VHS of the Coen brothers' Fargo and has convinced herself that if she travels to Minnesota, she will be able to find the money shown in the film buried in the movie in the snow.

This is a quirky and deadpan comedy with an undertow of sadness that not even the occasional scene-stealing close-ups of Kumiko's pet rabbit eating noodles can alleviate. Kumiko is a very mixed-up heroine and there is pathos as well as humour in her Quixotic journey across the American wilderness.

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