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"Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter": Rinko Kikuchi mesmerizes in Nathan Zellner's black comedy that jumps from Tokyo to North Dakota 

Wednesday, Apr 1 2015
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For some of us, Joel and Ethan Coen's austere Fargo was a letdown after the pure cinema of Barton Fink and The Hudsucker Proxy, but for many others, it was their masterpiece. And then there's Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi, who also executive-produced), the heroine of David and Nathan Zellner's black comedy Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. Based on a since-debunked urban legend, it's one of the best movies of 2015 so far. Kumiko is a Tokyo "office lady" who hates everything about her life. When the pressures of society get to be too much — especially the flak she gets from all directions for being single while pushing 30 — Kumiko travels to North Dakota, certain that Fargo was a true story, and that the money is still buried by that one fence. The frozen Midwest of Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter feels as alien to us as it does to her, and there's also a hint of J-Horror in Kumiko's ragged VHS copy of Fargo, which proves to be no less dangerous than the tape in Ringu. But it all boils down to Kikuchi's mesmerizing performance as the wounded, desperate Kumiko. Deep down, she may know the treasure is not real, but she can't face a world in which it isn't. And that's life, pretty much.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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