With the gorgeously shot, sweetly paced “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter,” David and Nathan Zellner make a strange, funny, sometimes alarmingly deadpan leap forward from their likable earlier features like “Goliath” (2008) and “Kid-Thing” (2012). An inspired fable, a riff on “Fargo,” a Herzog-like look at landscape, it’s like Rinko Kikuchi in “The Great Ecstasy Of The Treasure Hunter Kumiko,” with a motel quilt with a pattern worthy of Sergei Parajanov. The ineffable Kikuchi (“Pacific Rim,” “The Brothers Bloom”) plays an office worker in Japan who is convinced that her VHS tape of “Fargo” is a documentary, and she’s dead-set on going to America to find that suitcase of hot, frozen cash in the pure white winter wastes of North Dakota. Knowing little of the language, nearly broke, making mistake after mistake, she trudges on, with little more than crazy hope and visions of a bunny—Bunzo!—to keep her going. Kumiko and the Zellners arrive at a pure, visionary moment that is heartbreaking, lovely and perhaps great. The electro-ish score by The Octopus Project is appropriately dreamy and bittersweet. With the Zellners. 105m. (Ray Pride)
“Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter” opens Friday, March 27 at the Music Box.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.