Film

Pseudo-Feminist Fable Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is Unrewarding

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A deranged pseudo-feminist fable, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter takes its tedious time getting to its unrewarding destination.

Habitually dressed like Little Red Riding Hooded Sweatshirt, Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) is an unhappy Tokyo office worker whose boss and mother chide her for not having a boyfriend or professional ambition.

She’s also bonkers, as evidenced by her use of a homemade treasure map to locate a VHS copy of Fargo buried in a beachside cave. Repeated viewings of the Coen Brothers’ film convince her that the briefcase of cash Steve Buscemi’s character buries in the snow actually exists, and after much warning-sign behavior — including setting her pet bunny Bunzo free in a public park — Kumiko uses her employer’s credit card to travel to Minnesota.

There, she encases herself in a comforter, is aided by a local cop, and skips out on many bills, exhibiting a selfish dedication to her delusion that’s almost as off-putting as director David Zellner’s mannered compositions (including repeated Dardenne-ish shots from behind Kumiko’s head) are affected. That Kumiko is rejecting expected societal roles in order to chase her dream like some addled latter-day Conquistador gives the film a mild undercurrent of female empowerment.

Yet the eventual preponderance of forced fish-out-of-water whimsy serves as a reminder that “unconventional” doesn’t always mean “good.”