SOMETIMES TRUTH is stranger than fiction, and usually it's sadder. Brothers David and Nathan Zellner had already begun work on fictionalizing the "true" tale of a young Tokyo woman thought to have died looking for the suitcase of money that was buried in the Coen brothers' Fargo—when they found out that wasn't quite the case. Takako Konishi had died of exposure in the snow, but she did so intentionally, as was revealed in a suicide note she penned to her parents. Why had she traveled halfway around the world to do it? It was over an American man she'd met in Japan who hailed from Fargo.
Nonetheless, the Zellners pushed on with their project as modeled after the original version of the Konishi legend. The premise isn't the only unbelievably bizarre moment in Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, but the moments in the film that shine brightest are those in which the most liberties have been taken.
The language barrier between Kumiko (The Brothers Bloom and Pacific Rim's Rinko Kikuchi) and the Americans she encounters is one reason why the film is visually driven, and the dramatic white snow makes an otherworldly backdrop to a tale that ultimately feels—as unlikely as it seems—triumphant.