KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER (2014)

Although an odd and slightly unsatisfying film, Screen on the Green’s deep sofas, footstools, and back of auditorium bar offered wonderful respite from Kumiko’s harsh Minnesotan winds. It is always a pleasure to substitute the airport-like entertainment arenas with the comfort and personality of a more intimate cinema, and Islington’s Everyman fits the bill.

Kumiko. Another victim of our dull and stifling society. Her colleagues talk only of eyelash curling, her mother of marriage or promotion, and her boss is probing her to find out why she is so hopeless. And what is Kumiko doing? She is sewing a map of the treasure she believes is buried next to a snowy fence, Minnesota. Just where they left it in Fargo.

This is an adventure story set against the grim realities of life. Although at points the plot sticks so closely to our hero’s journey that it can feel rather linear in its progression, the Zellner brothers lift and define their story with a strong degree of ‘quirk’. Long shots of Kumiko feeding her rabbit noodles or attempting to bribe the library security guard, “I’ll make it worth your while…” punctuate the film. It was impossible not to see a response to Lost in Translation as Kumiko traipses the American landscape, lost, wearing a stolen motel duvet as a poncho.

A slight suspension of disbelief is required to swallow the finer details of the plot. Do we believe that Kumiko’s boss, unimpressed with her poor work ethic, would entrust her with his credit card? Or that the US police officer would go so far in his attempts to look after her? Is there a slight tedium to the use of convenient coincidences in the narrative, or is this all part of the fantasy… Perhaps it doesn’t really matter, and certainly the film is visually striking, and enjoyable for all its oddities.

Recommended for all those who are ready to quit their uniformed jobs and seek their fortune. Just don’t rely on the small print.

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