In “Kumiko the Treasure Hunter,” Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi plays a Tokyo loner who’s convinced the loot from “Fargo” — the satchel of money Steve Buscemi’s character buries in a random, snowy spot off a Minnesota highway — is real. No one can convince her any differently, be they the library security guard who caught her trying to steal an atlas or a bumbling police deputy who meets her when she turns up in America, fully committed to digging up loot.
“I don’t think she’s crazy,” Kikuchi says during a Los Angeles press day. “She just wants to believe what she believes. She’s trying to live the way she is.” Kikuchi doesn’t even think Kumiko is depressed. “I think she’s happy. She has a happy life by thinking the way she does.”
Still, some commentators have cited the film as a powerful look at loneliness, albeit one that’s absurdist, coasting on a deadpan tone that makes room for plenty of awkward set pieces. (Her attempts to evade human interaction with coworkers and strangers yield the film some solid yuks, as do her interactions with her only friend: a bunny named "Bunzo.") Kikuchi tried to see it both ways.
“This role is comical, but when I was acting I was trying to play it really seriously — to express the feeling of the character,” she says. “Maybe the seriousness of my acting somehow made it funny for the audience.”