An exotic flower fuels two men's personal obsessions and private disappointments in this subtle comedy-drama. 60-year-old Mokuhei Mano (Ken Ogata) is a former fireman in a small Japanese village (small enough that he'd been on the job for ten years before he was called on to fight his first fire) whose wife has just been institutionalized for nervous problems and whose son is stuck in an unhappy marriage after gambling away most of his money on mah jong. But most of this doesn't mean that much to Mano; his obsession in life is breeding the perfect chrysanthemum, a task to which he devotes most of his time. Mano happens to meet a 19-year-old girl named Miharu (Hijiri Kojima) who makes money by letting old men fool around with her in a photo booth. Mano learns by chance that Miharu is aquatinted with Kurose (Yoshi Oida), a man recognized all across Japan as a chrysanthemum grower of legendary status. Mano begs Miharu for an introduction and the two men get to know each other, only to discover that both have plenty of emotional baggage on hand from their younger days. As does Miharu, who abandoned a once promising career as a cellist. Atsumono was greeted with an enthusiastic reception at its first North American screenings, at Montreal's 1999 World Film Festival.
~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide