Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Spun from an urban myth, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter begins by following its own original path but ultimately becomes mired in a too-familiar brand of US indie quirkiness. Rinko Kikuchi does her best to give weight to the slight protagonist, a lonely and unhappy Japanese woman who finds an old VHS of Fargo and – believing the story to be true – sets out to retrieve the cash buried by Steve Buscemi in the Coens' crime drama.
The first half of the Zellner brothers’ film is evocative and intriguing, but when Kumiko reaches the US there's a tonal shift that it struggles to recover from. Kumiko’s strained interactions with Minnesotan residents introduces an element of eccentric culture-clash comedy that jars with the elegiac atmosphere. Too shallow and incurious to succeed as a character study, the film drifts aimlessly in a manner that frustrates and finally alienates, although many viewers may find themselves entranced by Sean Porter’s admittedly lovely images, the striking score by The Octopus Project, and a scene-stealing rabbit named Bunzo. [Philip Concannon]