Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.
The second biopic of Steve Jobs to be released after his death 4 years ago, following on from the Ashton Kutcher starring ‘Jobs’, is a superbly crafted film anchored around three product launches crucial in Jobs professional career. We begin in 1984 as Jobs is about to launch the Macintosh at Apple, before jumping to 1988 with the Black Cube at NeXT, then concluding with the launch of the iMac in 1998. At times this framing method feels a little forced, particularly when family problems are pushed into the limelight and various characters make spontaneous appearances, but I don’t really think the filmmakers are going for a hyper realistic approach. It feels as if the script and direction are operating at an enhanced state of reality, hyper almost, and the method is undoubtedly effective in bringing key characters together and in giving an insight into Jobs as a visionary, a father and a colleague. In two of those categories he falls short and it’s the films exploration of this where it finds great returns.
Aaron Sorkin wrote the script for the film and at his best there aren’t many screenwriters around that can touch him. His script is operatic, fast paced and utterly engrossed in the subject matter and the actors bring it to life superbly. Like his work on ‘The Social Network’, Sorkin gets to the heart of the central character and in tandem with director Danny Boyle this makes for thrilling cinema out of two men in a room talking about computers. Similar to David Fincher before him, Danny Boyle is well equipped to adapt Sorkin’s script and his direction helps to get the most out of a drama that is almost entirely conversational in nature, framing his shots to allow his performers to almost dance around each other. On a more simplistic level, the film is a fascinating exploration of the personal computer market, with the three years we drop in on all shedding some light on where the market was at the time.
Picking the right man to play Jobs was always going to be crucial and Michael Fassbender is excellent in the titular role. It’s fast becoming a moot point to talk about Fassbender’s performances, such is the quality of his recent output, and like his recent performance in ‘Macbeth’, he relishes getting his teeth into the dialogue in a meaty and intelligent script, whilst absolutely mastering the physicality of the role as he moves through each scene. The key supporting characters are all strong as well, with Kate Winslet a good foil as Joanna Hoffman (slightly shaky Eastern European accent aside), his main marketing executive at both Apple and NeXT and a key confidant. Jeff Daniels starred in Sorkin’s middling TV series ‘The Newsroom’ and he’s another performer who gets on the wavelength with the dialogue, whilst Michael Stuhlbarg and Seth Rogen in particular both disappear into their parts, which is the highest praise I can give them. Some of the family stuff doesn’t sit as comfortably as the professional focus, but it helps to shade Jobs in more as a person, ultimately showing that his poor attitude towards people wasn’t restricted to a working environment
‘Steve Jobs’ is a theatrical biopic crafted by two masters in Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin, and featuring excellent performances throughout the cast this is a thrilling and engrossing piece of cinema.
Directed By: Danny Boyle
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Sarah Snook, Adam Shapiro, Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, Makenzie Moss and John Ortiz