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Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is a somewhat mystical film about a lonely Japanese woman who (after watching the movie Fargo) decides it's her destiny to find a buried fortune in Minnesota and flies off to the United States. There's no drinking or sex and hardly any swearing (one use of "s--t"), so it's age appropriate for younger teens and up. The ending should spark some conversation about reality, fantasy, and delusion. Much of the film is in Japanese with subtitles.
What's the story?
Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) lives a lonely life in Tokyo; she has few friends, no boyfriend, a job she hates, and a mother who calls to berate her for not being married yet. One day she stumbles on a video tape of the classic 1996 film Fargo and ends up fixating on a scene near the end when an injured kidnapper buries ransom money in the snow. Kumiko suddently realizes that it's her destiny to fly to Minnesota and find that buried treasure, which she believes is real. So what if she barely speakes English and doesn't even have a warm coat to protect herself from the bitter winter cold?
Is it any good?
The magic in KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER really starts to emerge when she winds up in the Midwest, lost, cold, and alone. The people in Minnesota just don't know what to make of this strange woman who's absolutely determined to find her way to Fargo. They want to help, but there's not much they can do -- not when they're competing against her delusions. As she gets closer to her goal, the film slowly drifts away from reality and into a kind of fantasy land -- it's an amazing journey for both Kumiko and the viewer. This is the kind of story that could have a tragic ending (it's loosely based on a North Dakota urban legend that did) but instead is absolutely uplifting as Kumiko finally discovers what she truly needs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Kumiko's decision to fly to the United States in search of treasure. Is she trying to escape something? If so, what?
Can you think of any other films about lonely people who make unexpected, rash decisions? How does this compare?
Do you have to be familiar with Fargo to appreciate this movie? How does pop culture familiarity inform and impact people's media consumption?