Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen
Set during three key product launches during the career of Steve Jobs (Fassbender); the launch of the Macintosh in 1984, Jobs’ own NeXT computer in 1988 and the launch of the iMac in 1998. Revealing what happened before his launch speeches and the personal and professional sacrifices Jobs was both forced and chose to make to in order to revolutionize technology.
When a film comes out about a real-life figure, they of course have a tendency to mix fact with fiction for the sake of narrative, and I can appreciate that for those familiar with all the finer details of that particular true story that may be at times deeply annoying. This may well be the case with those familiar with all the details of the life of Steve Jobs and his career with Apple, as Steve Jobs may well be creative with its history, but all I personally want is a film that presents its story in an engaging way with characters to believe in, and for me Steve Jobs undoubtedly delivers on this level. For those like myself that know very little about either subjects that the narrative depicts, it is also a huge credit to all involved that this film does not alienate us for this lack of knowledge.
The unique settings of the narrative’s very distinct three act structure mean that Steve Jobs is most certainly not just a biopic. All three dialogue-heavy sequences show the moments before Jobs’ big speeches (we do not get to the see the speeches, and indeed we do not need to) and it is a true testament to Aaron Sorkin’s script and the performances just how engaging what could have been a really episodic narrative actually is. As I said earlier, Steve Jobs is not a conventional life-story biopic, but Sorkin intelligently includes just enough backstory about Jobs’ life to add context to what is happening within the narrative to make it so much more emotionally satisfying and also add context to both his actions and professional decisions.
Though it is most definitely very much a dialogue heavy film, Steve Jobs is also very cinematic and fully justifies being watched on the big screen, even though going by its current box office figures, not many have done so, which I personally regard as a shame. Danny Boyle makes sure to add visual flair to the film both in terms of camerawork, lighting and mis-en-scène, especially in choosing different cinematography for each of the three different narrative chapters. For its entire 122 minute running time it firmly holds the attention of its viewer and while doing this is, Steve Jobs is equally engaging, funny and emotionally involving, and is therefore very much a creative success in my opinion. Though there are of course three very distinct chapters within the narrative, Sorkin skilfully holds them together with some deep reoccurring themes and continuous minor plot strands that ultimately prove to be the emotional cornerstones of the overall narrative.
A huge factor in how engaging Steve Jobs as a piece of narrative cinema is the spot-on performances from the entire cast; for me it is irrelevant how much an actor physically looks like the real life character they are playing, but that they portray on-screen a character that while watching, it is a character to believe in. Fassbender excels at this, the uncompromising approach Steve Jobs takes often makes him very hard to like, but Fassbender brings a performance of great depth that, along with Sorkin’s very analytical script, makes the uncompromising decisions that Jobs makes engaging viewing. Though we may not agree with them, the very informative script and Fassbender’s performance gives the audience the chance to think over their own analysis, making the narrative even more involving. Despite the script being predominantly po-faced, there is also a character arc in there, but it is dealt with an intelligence that makes sure it is emotionally satisfying but never over schmaltzy. Though most people will not have lived the life Steve Jobs has (maybe except Bill Gates), this film portrays many of the decisions he makes as relatable, due to that fact that at their core they are around universal ideologies.
The supporting cast are also on exceptional form; Kate Winslet often provides the necessary expositional chinwag for Jobs, but the script and her performance make sure that she is more than just a narrative tool. Though the accent wobbles at first, as the story goes on she becomes an emotional pillar of the narrative and I would be very surprised if Reading’s finest does not get another Oscar nomination come awards season. Meanwhile Jeff Daniels is predictably excellent and Seth Rogen once again proves that when playing a straight role he can actually be very likeable, and his character of Steve Wozniak plays a small but crucial part in the narrative, and Rogen’s performance is excellent.
Though many may be deterred by the fact it is dialogue heavy, only focusses on three distinct moments and is one of many recent films about Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs is a film that should be judged on its own terms. When people do this I think they will come to the same conclusion as me; it is an intelligent and engaging cinematic experience from start to finish.
Not a conventional biopic, but all the better for being so; Steve Jobs boasts intelligent but involving dialogue and great performances to produce a surprisingly engaging and satisfying film.