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Kumiko The Treasure Hunter (#110 of 2)

Berlinale 2014 Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

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Berlinale 2014: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Berlinale 2014: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Obnoxiously, David and Nathan Zellner bill themselves as “The Zellner Brothers.” It offhandedly suggests Joel and Ethan Coen before Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, a film that deliberately suggests the work of the Coens, even begins. Opening on a fuzzy, out-of-focus title card reading, in part, “This is a true story,” the film carefully builds its core mystery. The titular sullen twentysomething (Rinko Kikuchi) works days as a secretary in Tokyo: showing up late, less perky than her colleagues, ritually spitting in her boss’s tea. In her own time, she follows arcane maps to secret caves, retrieving buried VHS tapes. Those tapes contain a secret, an oblique chart pointing to a hidden treasure.

No use belaboring it: Kumiko is looking for the buried briefcase in the Coens’ Fargo, the one a bloodied Steve Buscemi buries along a North Dakota highway, marked with a red ice scraper. Convinced she’s located the “treasure,” Kumiko tearfully bids goodbye to her pet bunny rabbit, steals her boss’s corporate credit card, and heads to Minnesota, en route to Fargo.