Wednesday, August 5, 2015

KUMIKO THE TREASURE HUNTER (2015)



Directed By: David Zellner 
Written By: David Zellner & Nathan Zellner 
Cinematography By: Sean Porter 
Editor: Melba Jodorosky 


Cast: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, Shirley Venard, David Zellner, Nathan Zellner


A lonely Japanese woman becomes convinced that a satchel of money buried and lost in a fictional film, is in fact, real. With a crudely drawn treasure map and limited preparation, she escapes her structured life in Tokyo and embarks on a foolhardy quest across the tundra of Minnesota in search of her mythical fortune.

I was really looking forward to this film it has a great premise that is based on a more tragic true story.

I just could never get on the films wavelength. Even though it's main theme of isolation is something I can usually identify with in most films.

The film shows us she is an outcast amongst her co-workers and friends. More taken For granted. So while it is understandable why she gets excited when she feels she has found purpose. The problem is that it never feels like we are given a particular reason why she feels so strongly or that she has this in her. As she seems pretty low key and miserable.

The decadent and still atmosphere stays the same as when it is in Japan as when she comes to the United States only the frigid weather more or less compliments the already stilted situations.

What keeps the film interesting is that we know this is a journey that can only end tragically and as she is warned and told by others that it is also she not only chooses not to believe but also can't understand the language barrier. Even when it comes to physical language she is at a loss or reads it all wrong.

What the film does have going for it is that the film is filled with great beauty int he way of shots and angles. Especially the visuals and the lead performance by Rinko Kikuchi is strong and extraordinary. As she stays believable and proves to be quite a force, Even when for the most part she is gentile and seems fragile physically and mentally

The film is pretty low-key and seems while it has it's eye on the prize chooses to also introduce elements and little side stories through characters that inform her journey. Who are white interesting themselves. Though a lot like her as they are independent, yet have a loneliness about them as well as a deep seated decency.

It the film Works as a character study as well as a study in atmosphere and mood. While there is action after awhile the film feels a bit too observant. Rather than reactionary.

While i applaud the filmmaking and the choices that are made. It just feels more like a poem that tries to be dramatic and have some meaning. Sticking more closely to what cousin happen. Rather then going full out and running to more extreme as far as ideas go. This is more a film that is pulled back rather then released.

It feels like you are just hoping for more to happen that never seems to. Which becomes rather disappointing after awhile. As the film is reserved but still Carries an air within it, that feels like anything can happen. the director (and his brother who was not present) claimed that the ambiguous introduction was heavily influenced by the beginnings of the James Bond films that they so loved as children.

SPOILER

It has an ending that seems to let you decide if it’s true or not. Do you want to believe the happy ending or do you think it is a fantasy and that at a certain point there was a tragedy and this is more a dream. Think TAXI DRIVER or OBSERVE AND REPORT.

Inspired by the true story of a Japanese woman, Takako Konishi, who was found dead in a field outside Detroit Lakes, Minnesota on November 15, 2001. The media insinuated that she was searching for the ransom money from Fargo because of conversations she had with state troopers.

Kumiko is assisted by a well-meaning state trooper who brings her to a Chinese restaurant, hoping they could help translate. In real life, Takako Konishi was helped by a state trooper who really did contact Chinese restaurants in a vain attempt to help.

Takako Konishi was partially driven to suicide as a result of a failed relationship with a man from Fargo. This was combined with the role of the state trooper in the film, who Kumiko falls in love with - and his rejection is also partially a cause of Kumiko's apparent death in the film.

In real life, Takako Konishi committed suicide via vodka and sedatives.

END SPOILER

Though to a point as the film seems to desire to become a fable. While the character might deserve the ending. The film doesn't.


Grade: B-

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