Directed by: Danny Boyle
Written by: Aaron Sorkin (Screenplay), and Walter Isaacson (Book)
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen, Michael Stuhlbarg
Steve Jobs, the person, is an icon. If you want to know who Steve Jobs is, you should look a lot further than this film. This one is intended to be a biopic, but it’s really just a lot of walking, posturing, and talking as various conversations take place prior to three key product launches: the MacIntosh in 1984, the NeXTcube in 1988, and the iMac in 1998. Ironically, these meetings seem to have taken place with the same 5 or 6 key people in his life, and each seems to pick right up as a continuation of the last. Here’s my problem with that premise. I can’t remember exact conversations that I had 6 months ago, let alone 30 odd years. So while it’s supposed to be based on the authorized biography written by Walter Isaacson, as well as conversations with key people in Job’s life, Sorkin’s screenplay is reputedly a work of fiction.
Now that we have that out of the way, Danny Boyle’s take on Steve Jobs is a pretty riveting and interesting film. Jobs is an enigmatic character, and given the prominence of Apple in the marketplace, we all feel like we knew Jobs, or wish we had. Fassbender’s portrayal is intense and earnest. He delivers on the megalomaniacal nature of Job’s personality, his paranoia, and later the acceptance of his failed relationships and desire to make amends.
Kate Winslet gives an duteous portrayal of the long suffering marketeer behind the various iterations of product that Jobs is introducing – and apparently was the one person in the world who could stand up to Jobs. She does well to convey the allegiance that Joanna Hoffman must have had to remain with the pain-in-the-you-know-what Jobs during the time period referenced in the film.
This Steve Jobs is hands-down proud to be the father of technology, but not interested in the least to owning up to his responsibilities as an actual father. The film focuses heavily on Jobs’ ultimate acceptance of his role as parent and much of the revelation of Job’s character (or lack thereof) takes place through conversations as others criticize Jobs’ limited engagement as parent. Also showcased in the film are Jobs’ relationships with Apple technical gurus Steve Wozniak and Andy Hertzfeld and CEO John Scully, all reflective of Job’s hindering, tenuous and ultimately broken grasp on Apple in the wake of defeat. Victorious in the end, however, the film concludes with the success of the iMac and apparently with the iPod as a twinkle in his eye – a fitting fictional segue to take us from the Apple of yesteryear to the powerhouse of today.
Steve Jobs was indeed a visionary, and ostensibly became a great manager and leader. It’s too bad that we didn’t really get to see much of that man in this film, though it reveals enough for us to appreciate the blossoming maturity to come. Turns out that Steve Jobs was just like you and me on that score. “Life” is the app for that; it’s just that metamorphosis takes some people longer than others.
Cindy Says: ⭐️⭐️⭐️¾ stars. It’s Fassbender’s movie but the supporting cast offers solid performances as well, even though the genuineness of the story seems to be in contention. Honestly, though, this one may play better in the intimacy of the home theater rather than on the big screen.
Recommendations: If you want a film that pays more attention to the journey, there’s the documentary Steve Jobs: The Man and the Machine. If you are looking for more about that dawning of the information age, watch the series Halt and Catch Fire. If you can’t get enough there’s The Imitation Game, The Social Network and of course, Jobs.