First-time features by Japanese indie directors are typically rough around the edges — or rough, period. But some, such as Kei Chikaura’s “Complicity,” arrive in local theaters after screening at major festivals and trailing production credits that read like a who’s who of the film world. On viewing it, “rough” was not the first descriptive that sprang to mind. “Assured,” “accomplished” and “accessible” seemed like better fits.
Premiering at the 2018 Toronto film festival, this drama about a Chinese man (Lu Yulai) living on the wrong side of the law in Japan was also invited to Busan, Berlin and Tokyo Filmex, where it won the Audience Award. Co-produced by Chinese industry veteran Nai An, who has worked extensively with director Ye Lou (“Purple Butterfly,” “Spring Fever”), and shot by cinematographer Yutaka Yamazaki, a frequent collaborator with Hirokazu Kore-eda (“Nobody Knows,” “Still Walking”), “Complicity” is an international co-production par excellence, while being a heartfelt paean to Japan-China understanding.