Kumiko is about a Japanese woman who is convinced that she knows the location of the hidden suitcase of money in the movie Fargo and embarks on a quest to procure it. Much like that iconic image of her in the blanket, she and her story are parts wondrous and parts muted with a melancholic reality. Directing duo the Zellner Brothers (Nathan and David) take on another directing duo (the Coen brothers, who created Fargo) and do an admirable job of crafting an entirely new movie that thankfully escapes categorization as an homage movie.
In fact, one of the only comparisons that can be made to Fargo is that the Zellner Brothers created this story based on true events -- a sort of enigmatic urban legend surrounding an actual Minnesota pilgrimage of Takako Konishi. And true to the events and their discovery of it, Kumiko has a sort of mysterious and mystical journey aspect to it. In the opening scene of the movie, Kumiko uses a homespun map to find a VHS of Fargo hidden away in a seaside cave.
The best part of this movie, far and away, has to be Kikuchi's performance. She brings us into the psyche of Kumiko -- the dual aspect of both her innocence in pursuing this quest and the reality of her surroundings. The humor we see is muted and it's her acting that keeps us from criticizing her too harshly. Whether the treasure actually exists no longer becomes relevant when we see the urgency and the truth of Kumiko's belief and what she is willing to commit in order to reach her holy grail.
The digital shooting of the film actually adds to the dual aspect of the movie. Although there's an appreciation for the effort and sacrifices heroes must put into their quests as well as a deference toward the handling of a VHS tape as a holy relic, there's something about the crisp format that conveys the story more effectively.
Thematically there's a loss of cohesion, and there are several times when you're left wanting more from the story or from its characters. And despite its motif of muted loneliness, I don't believe we're meant to be left feeling disconnected from the movie at the end.