‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter’ movie review – 3 stars

The Coen Brothers famously opened their masterpiece “Fargo” with the false declaration that it was based on a true story, in a particularly snarky commentary on that typically meaningless addendum.

The Zellner brothers, David and Nathan, have produced a cinematic riff on the concept in “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” about a lonely Japanese woman (Rinko Kikuchi) who becomes convinced that the film is a documentary and travels to North Dakota in a bid to uncover the money famously buried alongside a rural fence by Steve Buscemi’s character.

It’s a strange film with a challenging tone that stays on the right side of the dangerous line between sympathy and mockery. Kumiko is a fairly inscrutable protagonist on one level, but on another she’s driven by the same force that gets us all up in the morning: the drive to find our purpose.

As she stands in an unfamiliar land, facing down brutal, wind-swept tundras, Kikuchi imbues Kumiko with that most important and elusive of characteristics: a soul.