Steve Jobs Film Review
Comparisons to Social Network were always going to be hard to avoid when it came to viewing the Steve Jobs film. Two pictures about genuine pioneers of our technological generation who have both had their social prowess questioned and products we all know and (most) love – though not as much as both films would probably have you believe.
Not only that, they’ve both been scripted by one of best writers scripting today in Aaron Sorkin and directed by two of the most acclaimed directors practising today – this one by Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting’s Danny Boyle – and the parallels are obvious. And to be honest, you can draw a linear between the overall qualities of the films too – they’re both must sees.
Social Network has been criticised in the past for being a film about men walking around talking to other men and you should probably be warned that Steve Jobs is of a similar ilk – except replace ‘men’ with the excellent Kate Winslet. But don’t let that put you off. This is a superbly intricate depiction of an American icon determined to pedal his techno-art into Zeitgeist.
If you live in a cave and don’t know who Steve Jobs is, he was the brains behind the Apple brand and here he’s played by Michael Fassbender. An articulate and charismatic man, Jobs’ ambition and vision is questioned and tested as we see him moments before three of his biggest launches. The whole film take place backstage at these performances in 1984, at the launch of the Macintosh, in 1988, as Jobs prepares to launch his doomed NeXT system having been ousted by Apple, and in 1998, moments before his triumphant return as the brains behind the now plain famous iMac.
Also thrown into the mix is an on-going battle of parenthood between Jobs and an ex-girlfriend (Katherine Waterston) who claims her five year-old daughter is his. Fassbender is in fine form here and he nails the mesmeric wit and charming cruelty to a tee. You might come out thinking you still don’t really know who the real Steve Jobs is but that’s also accompanied by the feeling nobody ever really did anyway. Fassbender leaves Jobs perfectly elusive – he’s probably a genius but almost certainly a sociopath. We accept him but never truly understand him.
There’s not poor performance in Steve Jobs as Jeff Daniels as John Sculley, Apple CEO/mentor, and Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ PA at work and in day to day life, both have time to shine in exchanges that exude their awe and frustration at Jobs and his vision. Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, also has a particularly pertinent scene that makes you desperate for him to take on more straight roles.
In the setting, a comparison to Birdman isn’t far off the mark with backstage antics playing out like a Shakespearian tragedy and Steve Jobs paces along in similar fashion thanks to the standout performance of the show – Sorkin’s stunning script which zings along from minute. Drawn from Walter Isaacson’s biography on Jobs, Sorkin’s trademark of juggling three to four conversations in one piece of dialogue never ceases to amaze. Funny, clever and packed full of heart, this might be Sorkin’s best work yet.
But having Sorkin only compliments the perfect direction from Danny Boyle. One of the more noticeable touches is each of the three eras are shot in time-specific stock. I.E. The 1984 footage is grainy and the 1998 pictures are glistening. It’s a simple but incredibly effective touch. Boyle lets the script breathe with cameras roaming down corridors and flashback dialogue expertly intertwined with present arguments. Steve Jobs (the film) never stops and without a dab-hand, the pace of the drama could easily have been lost into farce.
We’ll be astonished if Steve Jobs doesn’t rack up the Oscar nominations with Fassbender, Winslet, Sorkin and Boyle all likely to get nods. Occasionally you wonder if all the grandeur of Jobs’ musings are nonsense but even if you don’t believe in his and Apple’s Zeitgeist, nobody can deny this is an extremely entertaining film.
Our Rating: 4 and ½ Stars