Steve Jobs has become somewhat of a legend. He was one when he was alive, and most certainly became one after death. A revered man, Jobs transcended his job as the head of Apple and became more of an icon–a symbol representing innovation. Hell, many tech-crazed people shed tears after hearing of his death in 2011. And ever since then, the film industry has banked on his name, leading first with Ashton Kutcher’s little-seen portrayal of the smart phone innovator in 2013’s Jobs and earlier this year there was Alex Gibney’s documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. So of course it makes sense that Aaron Sorkin, the man who wrote the script for the Oscar-nominated The Social Network, is behind another rise to fame tech story, this time with Danny Boyle’s aptly titled Steve Jobs. And once you think you’ve heard it all, Sorkin and Boyle are able to partake in a new angle of a story that has become all-too familiar.
Steve Jobs is a character who’s dying to be written about, it seems. Played this time around by Michael Fassbender, Sorkin and Boyle tell Jobs’ story in a linear, but not-exactly-biographical way. Starting off in 1984, quite literally right before Jobs takes the stage to unveil the Macintosh, the backstage area is a cacophony of sound, movement, last-minute requests and arguments. Jobs’ right-hand woman, friend and conscience Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) is ushering him in and out of rooms, into unscheduled interludes with his ex Chrisann (Katherine Waterston) and his daughter Lisa (Mackenzie Moss at 5, Ripley Sobo at 9, and Perla Haney-Jardine at 19) who he claims isn’t his. Jobs has run-ins with the CEO of Apple (Jeff Daniels) and discussions with Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) about product recognition for the Apple II. And throughout all of this, Jobs’ several dispositions are on full display–from his abrupt and blunt manner, to his demeaning and ruthless side, Steve Jobs gives us the man, not the legend, and contains him within the world of his own products.
Of course the questions of accuracy always come to mind with films such as this, but a dramatized, exaggerated version of a computer guru’s life isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world when it comes to Boyle’s latest film. Steve Jobs has a ferocity about it, a hunger that is waiting to be sated. This is exactly Michael Fassbender’s approach to his character, and one no one should be at all disappointed with. Fassbender’s performance is rich and filled with its own eccentricities and fueled by passion. Kate Winslet always impresses and her role as Hoffman is no different. Granted, this is more of a meatier role than we’ve seen her take on in a while and she nails it, matching Fassbender with every step as the woman who had a reputation for being one of the only people to be able to stand up to Jobs. Seth Rogen, mostly known for his comedy, delivers a genuine performance as Wozniak, and Jeff Daniels is powerful and vulnerable as John Sculley.
Aaron Sorkin’s script is unconventional, but brilliantly mastered in a way he could only pull off. There’s drama and humor and fast-talking characters moving in and out of scenes like a well-rehearsed stage play. It isn’t quite the take on Steve Jobs anyone was probably expecting, which makes for a breath of fresh air. Given that Jobs’ reputation was that of a genius and a monster to deal with personally, the film doesn’t disappoint in giving us both and somehow making it all endearing in a way it would not have been in real life. The film, inspired by Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, plays with all the pieces of the man’s life loosely and purposefully, painting a picture of a visionary who was both ruthless and passionate in both his life and work. Steve Jobs is quick-paced and unique in its delivery of what seems like a mess of scenes, but is quite focused in what can only be called organized chaos.
Release Date: October 16, 2015 | Director: Danny Boyle | Screenwriter: Aaron Sorkin | Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Mackenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, Perla Haney-Jardine | Genre: Drama, Biography | MPAA Rating: R for language