Intense, captivating film about the man, the myth, the legend.
Movie Review #1,046
Distributed by Universal Pictures. Biography-Drama. Running time: 2 hours, 2 minutes. Rated R for language. Released October 23, 2015. Directed by Danny Boyle. Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. From the book “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, and Makenzie Moss.
2015 was one of the best years for film in a long, long time. Even so, Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay for “Steve Jobs” still seems to tower over every other screenplay of last year. From its very first moment, Sorkin is lobbing at us one barrage after another of heated, rapid-fire dialogue, laying the groundwork for an atmosphere of pure tension that pervades the film. In translating any of his scripts to film, the editor is Sorkin’s best friend; you simply can’t drag out anything he writes at a slow pace. Choosing editor Elliot Graham for this duty sounds like a daring move, as he hasn’t worked on a major motion picture since 2008, but as it turns out, he and Sorkin are on the exact same page. Graham delivers the script at a pace that’s so aggressive, it challenges us to keep up with it. He most certainly does not ease us into the film, and as a matter of fact, the only reason we manage to keep up with the film is that we’re so darn intrigued.
Sorkin doesn’t spend his whole script going through the subject’s entire life story. He’s aware that most of us know who Steve Jobs is. He divides the script into three separate acts, which we see woven together in the distinct style of director Danny Boyle. Act I follows Jobs as he introduces the Apple Macintosh in 1984; Act II, the NeXT Computer in 1988; Act III, the Apple iMac in 1998. Each act not only delves into how Jobs’s ego affected his career, but also how it affected his relationship with his daughter Lisa. That’s a major component in showing Jobs to us from an emotional standpoint. For the most part, it works out superbly. However, the offerings of this subplot have grown a bit too sentimental by Act III. The ultimate result is a finale that just feels too schmaltzy to belong in a movie this great.
Michael Fassbender doesn’t look a thing like the real Steve Jobs, but he does a damn fine job in the role. He develops the character purely as a manifestation of his own ego, demanding both admiration and loathing from those watching. On one hand, he’s goal-oriented and idealistic, but at the same time, he’s extremely dogmatic, reserved, and thrives on having control. This performance is matched by Kate Winslet’s. It’s likely you won’t even recognize the actress. Even behind her Polish accent and her strange attire, she still embodies Joanna Hoffman to her fullest. I had not heard of Hoffman until seeing the film, and I’m sure few of us have. She was integral to marketing products of both Apple and NeXT through nearly all of Jobs’s career. It’s safe to say that without her efforts, Apple might not be the juggernaut that it is today. But for the film’s purposes, that’s not important as the fact that she was one of few who could have a civil, adult conversation with Jobs. She stands by him as more of a mentor than a business partner.
“Steve Jobs” is the second dramatic account of the subject in just over two years, following “Jobs” in August 2013. They couldn’t be more different from each other, and that’s due to one monumental disparity. “Jobs” was too simple a film. It was a moment-by-moment account of Jobs’s life that connected us to the character roughly as much as a bullet-point biography. Essentially, it answered the whats and hows of Jobs’s life–Jobs’s co-founding Apple with Steve Wozniak and how he did it. “Steve Jobs” thinks different, so to speak. It’s relatively unconcerned with the whats and the hows. It instead presents Jobs in terms of the who and the why.