Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) is a 29 year old office worker in a job she hates, with a boss she despises. She is unable to relate to her former friends, her workmates or her mother. The only “friend” she appears 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 this is only a scene in a movie, Kumiko believes that the money is real, that it is still there, and that she is destined to find it.
Kumiko leaves her job and sets out for Minnesota, hopeful, determined and completely unprepared for what she will find there. Along the way she meets a few strangers who simultaneously try to help her and yet 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.
Although it is never openly discussed, Kumiko appears to be suffering from severe depression and social anxiety. The notion of mental illness runs throughout the film.
There is some violence in this movie including:
- Scenes from the movie Fargo are shown in which a man sits in his car, covered in blood from an apparent wound on his neck as he rifles through a case of money. He is later shown, still bloody, burying the case in the snow.
- Kumiko believes she sees a 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 is only a large piece of wood, her hands are completely cut up and blood is all over the ice and water.
There are some sexual references in this movie, including:
- 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 that someone shot the privates off with a 12 gauge shotgun.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some mild sexual activity in this movie, including:
- Kumiko kisses the sheriff after he says that he will help her. He pulls back and tells her that he has a wife and two kids and that he is only doing his job. Kumiko runs away.
The following products are displayed or used in this movie:
- The book Shogun
- The movie Fargo
There is some coarse language in this movie, including:
- One use of “shit”.
- Kumiko yells at a dog calling it “fool” or “idiot” in Japanese.
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 film is intended for a mature audience may appeal to anyone with an interest in Japan or the Japanese language. It may also appeal to academics or anyone more interested in cinematography as opposed to plot or storyline.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:
- Determination, dedication, persistence and the ability to believe in yourself despite everyone telling you that you are wrong or that what you want is impossible.
This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:
- Dishonesty and lack of responsibility. Kumiko is often late for work and generally looks and acts as if both miserable and disinterested. She spits in the boss’s tea, puts his dry cleaning in a rubbish bin and uses the company credit card for her own personal needs, yet no consequences are ever shown. She is only told that work is not happy with her.
- Wandering alone in the wilderness during a Minnesota winter with nothing but a blanket over a jacket to protect her from the elements is both dangerous and unrealistic. Kumiko sleeps outside one night and awakens refreshed in the morning yet in real life the more likely outcome would have been death.