Story

Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) is a 29-year-old office worker. She hates her job and despises her boss. She can’t relate to her former friends, her workmates or her mother. The only ‘friend’ she seems to have is her pet rabbit. After finding a video of the movie Fargo hidden in a cave off the coast of Tokyo, Kumiko becomes obsessed with finding the money that one of the characters buries by a fence in a snowy field in Minnesota. Despite the fact that it’s only a scene in a movie, Kumiko believes that the money is real, that it’s still there, and that she’s destined to find it.

Kumiko leaves her job and sets out for Minnesota, hopeful, determined and completely unprepared for what she’ll find. Along the way she meets a few strangers who simultaneously try to help her and also steer her away from her dream of getting to Fargo. Ultimately alone and by sheer force of will, she finds her way to the fence from the movie and there discovers something far more important and powerful than money.

Themes

Although it’s never openly discussed, Kumiko appears to be suffering from severe depression and social anxiety. The theme of mental illness runs throughout the movie.

Violence

There is some violence in Kumiko the Treasure Hunter. For example:

  • Scenes from the movie Fargo are included in this movie. They show a man sitting in his car, rifling through a case of money. He’s covered in blood from a wound on his neck. He’s shown later, still bloody, burying the case in the snow.
  • Kumiko believes she sees the case of money frozen beneath a lake. She begins to hack at the ice with a stick and later her hands. By the time she breaks through the surface and discovers that it’s only a large piece of wood, her hands are completely cut up and blood is all over the ice and water. 

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Kumiko looks like a big, shadowy blob as she stands in the middle of an ice field wrapped in a blanket. There is extremely loud, dramatic music, which adds to the scariness of the scene.
  • As Kumiko wanders through a forest at night, still draped in a blanket, her face looks distorted in the glow of a flashlight. There is suspenseful music and she starts to look scary and frostbitten as she staggers through the shadowy forest.

From 5-8
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, there are some scenes in Kumiko the Treasure Hunter that could scare or disturb children aged 5-8 years.

These scenes include one sequence in which Kumiko decides to set her rabbit free. She takes him to a park and tells him to go and be free as she has to leave to do important things. The rabbit doesn’t go so she yells and screams at him to leave. He doesn’t. She then takes him to the subway, and it looks as if she has changed her mind and is bringing him home. But she leaves him on the train and rushes out through the train doors just before the train leaves the station. The rabbit is shown on a seat pricking his ears looking startled and apprehensive as the train races away. Kumiko is crying. Some sensitive children might be distressed by this.

From 8-13
Some younger children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter has some sexual references. For example:

  • Kumiko’s boss asks her if she is a homosexual.
  • A local sheriff explains to Kumiko that a statue used to be anatomically correct, but someone shot off the statue’s privates with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter has some mild sexual activity. For example, Kumiko kisses the sheriff after he says that he’ll help her. He pulls back and tells her that he has a wife and two children and that he’s only doing his job. Kumiko runs away.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie: the book Shogun and the movie Fargo.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in Kumiko the Treasure Hunter.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is a slow-paced look at one woman’s life. The first half of the movie is in Japanese with English subtitles. The movie is intended for a mature audience, and it might appeal to anyone with an interest in Japan or the Japanese language. It might also appeal to people who are interested in cinematography rather than plot or storyline. It generally lacks interest for viewers under the age of 15 years.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include determination, dedication, persistence and the ability to believe in yourself despite everyone telling you that you’re wrong or that what you want is impossible.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the following:

  • Dishonesty and lack of responsibility: Kumiko is often late for work and generally looks and acts as if she’s miserable and uninterested. She spits in the boss’s tea, puts his dry cleaning in a rubbish bin and uses the company credit card for her personal spending, yet no consequences are ever shown. She’s told only that work isn’t happy with her.
  • Survival in extreme conditions: Kumiko wanders alone in the wilderness during a Minnesota winter with nothing but a blanket over a jacket to protect her from the elements. She sleeps outside one night and awakens refreshed in the morning. This is both dangerous and unrealistic. In real life the more likely outcome would be death.