Before directing his debut feature, Hungarian filmmaker Peter Politzer gained considerable experience as a film editor. That is why it is not surprising that, in Manhood, the director's main storytelling instrument is montage. He tells us a tale of three generations of people living in Budapest. If D.W. Griffith, in his 1916 movie Intolerance, employed parallel editing to emphasize thematic similarities across different epochs, here Politzer articulates the continuity of phenomena.
Manhood follows three men at various stages of their life in Budapest. Samu (Samu Fischer) is a 13-year-old football fan who dreams of becoming a successful athlete. Deszo (Martin Szipal) is a 91-year-old man whose life is associated with photography and love stories. Forty-year-old bassist Frank (Peter Vass) has a life full of difficulties. Politzer visualizes these lives with a geometric and sculptural visual accuracy. When Deszo speaks in voiceover, while we observe his activities , the impression is that he has been deprived of the right to speak.
The director dramatizes this scenario with black-and-white imagery, although the film seems more gray than black-and-white. This is partly a reflection on our routine and hopeless life. A soundtrack of jazz compositions partly neutralizes this tension, as does humor, which adds comedy.
We can ask a question: what is the ideological or political base of Manhood? The answer is difficult, because the director does not make the meaning or message of his stories clear. The story is not complex. The cinematographer's camera is watching the events and observing heroes from a spiritual perspective. However, it is important to have a deep study of the background where they have to exist. Their "idea of success" is elusive, because the high class determines it.
In this case, Politzer's cinematic language is only descriptive and he just fixes the lives of heroes. Sometimes such narrative techniques are justified, and the film becomes interesting from many perspectives. But in this case, this solution is ineffective. The emotional and intellectual self-reflection on this film becomes difficult for the audience. There is no key episode (a direct and radical scene) in which we see that the protagonists have more or less identical problems; This is the reason for the film’s lack of catharsis.