Steve Jobs, 2015.
Directed by Danny Boyle.
Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlberg, Jennifer Waterston.
A glimpse into the life of modern myth Steve Jobs, the controversial CEO of Apple, as he hashes out professional and personal conflicts right before the major product launches that shaped his career as well as the world of personal computing as we know it.
You could probably say that it was too soon for a second movie about Steve Jobs to be made, just three years after the one with Ashton Kutcher in the title role (which proved to be a major flop and was panned by critics worldwide). In fact, most people did. If you, like me, didn’t even bother seeing Steve Jobs at the movies back in November for this reason exactly, you may be in for a surprise: this Jobs movie is actually good. It’s great, really. If the cast wasn’t any indication (can you compare Kutcher to Fassbender? probably not), then the creative team behind Steve Jobs – director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Trance) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Moneyball) – should be reason enough to see this film, now out on DVD and BluRay.
Danny Boyle takes a step away from biopics as we know them, and opens a narrow window into Jobs’ life that looks in on the product launches that made him a living legend. We watch as he confronts friends and co-workers in the minutes leading up to him walking on stage and presenting the Apple Macintosh, the NeXT Computer and the iMac G3, living up to the reputation he had as a visionary who was also incredibly hard to work with.
Sorkin takes creative liberty with the sequence of events and converges the central conflicts of Jobs’ life within these three product launches. As he struts around backstage followed by his marketing executive and confidant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet, Triple 9), he confronts ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Catherine Waterston, Inherent Vice) over his paternity of his daughter Lisa, who he initially denounces, although bonding with the girl leads him to accept her and provide financial support. He bullies his friend and programmer Andy Hurtzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg, Blue Jasmine) into making a Macintosh feature work just minutes before launch, and later admits that he’s indifferent to whether that made Hurtzfeld dislike him (spoiler: it kinda did). Through the years Jobs constantly refuses to acknowledge the team behind the Apple II computer, despite the pleas of his friend and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen, The Interview), and his conversations with Michael Sculley (Jeff Daniels, Divergent Series: Allegiant), Apple CEO and interim father figure to Jobs, reveal the truth behind Jobs’ hard exterior and his relentless drive for perfection and acceptance.
While largely devoid of action, the film is incredibly gripping thanks to Sorkin’s trademark fast-paced dialogue and the great performances delivered by the entire cast. Fassbender (Macbeth) really outdoes himself here, with his performance being the most captivating, supported by Daniels, Winslet and even Rogen who does a great jobs as Wozniak – especially watching him in the flashbacks, rekindling the eternal conflict between Windows and Mac users over customisation and end-to-end control. We all know who won in the end, but most of us certainly remember a time when machines that could be opened up and tinkered with were the pinaccle of personal computing.
The minimalist DVD menu is a simple series of icons, a nod to the Apple mantra of user-friendly minimalist design, a cheeky ‘see what we did there’ which sets the tone of the film before you’ve even pushed play.
The only special feature on the DVD is a making-of featurette, 15 mins long, which covers the topics of making the film and writing the script, what Steve Jobs was like as a person and how that influenced screenwriter Aaron Sorkin into not following a typical biopic structure. Interviews with director Danny Boyle, Sorkin, and star Michael Fassbender shed some light into the creative process behind this unique movie, like why the characters don’t look exactly like their real life counterparts: it shouldn’t matter, much like in a play; this is less about being historically accurate (after all, it’s not a documentary or indeed a by-the-numbers biopic), and more about being faithful to the conflicts that drive these characters and their choices forward.
An interesting take on the true story narrative and a fascinating watch, the film clocks in at just under two hours but never feels long or boring. The script is the most compelling thing about it, written in trademark Sorkin style and playing with structure and timeline to create a larger-than-life version of the man who single-handedly (and single-mindedly) changed the course of personal computing for all of us, whether we use Apple products or not.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★
Kat Kourbeti – Follow me on Twitter.