Steve Jobs (2015)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Contains spoilers.

I love Apple but, beyond knowing that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple in Jobs' garage, I couldn't tell you anything about the man or his life. Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs doesn't seek simply to laud the man as a computer guru or entrepreneur but, rather, as a human, and strives to show his genius as well as his faults.

Written by Aaron Sorkin, the biopic tells of three mirrored times in Jobs' life: the unveiling of the Apple Macintosh computer in 1984, the unveiling of the NeXT Computer in 1988, and the unveiling of the Apple iMac in 1998. The behind-the-scenes story shows us the real Steve Jobs. We see him refusing paternity, dealing with production issues, arguing with friends, and more. The ways in which he solves problems is eye opening. And while today he is remembered as the father of the iPod and the iPhone, he is so much more than that. Boyle shows us his genius in business, creative and artistic vision, and oft-forgotten emotion.

The movie takes place in three successive vignettes. Each one is centered around Jobs and a series of problems that he needs to deal with, both personal and professional. Sorkin's script succeeds because the life of Steve Jobs is so full and excessive that to cover more than a few events would be disastrous. This narrow focus leaves room to really show us who Steve Jobs is and not just a series of occurrences related to Apple.

With less action and more dialogue Steve Jobs feels like a play at times. The dialogue is flowing, natural, and immersive, and while some might say that it's too much it's actually refreshing. With very few scene changes we move fluidly through each moment and get the full brunt of each line, whether dramatic, humorous, or informative. And, while it might seem like a film with 3 dominant locales would be stifled into boringness, the opposite is the case. There are indeed 3 dominant locations, but the story is written and presented so expertly that we're not left with drawn out exchanges overstaying their welcome. Sorkin gives us naturally overlapping, ebbing, flowing, and sharp interactions taking us from each exchange to the next in uniformly interesting and witty fashion.

Fassbender is Steve Jobs. There's no other capable description. In one of the best performances of the year Fassbender captures Steve Jobs and his interaction with those around him. Kate Winslet, as Joanna Hoffman, is nothing less than the perfect counterpoint to Fassbender's Steve. Their back and forth, and the interaction of the whole cast (including Seth Rogen, who forcefully reminds that he's not just a weed comic), really, is phenomenal. It feels real. They're real people, not characters, not caricatures, not shadows.

Boyle's eccentric and skilled direction comes to full fruition here. From his decision to use a different filming method for each vignette to having longer scenes, Boyle's direction is strong, purposeful, and delightfully artistic. Stunning and dramatic, I can't help but think that Steve Jobs himself would've loved the aesthetic and production choices.

 

From the editing to the composition, Boyle's direction and Alwin Küchler's cinematography is top notch. A couple scenes in particular, with inter-splicing of shots leading up to a fuller shot of the flashback, are gorgeous: the color palette, framing, composition, and tension are almost cathartic. Only a couple moments are actually uncomfortable, such as one where John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) ambushes Steve Jobs prior to the unveiling of the NeXT computer which feels definitively like something out of cliche cinema.

Now, I have to say that I don't how accurate this movie is. I don't know whether Sorkin's dialogue is realistic to the life of Steve Jobs or the interactions they seem to portray. I don't know if these computer launches occurred as Boyle has portrayed for us. What I do know is that Steve Jobs is an endlessly electric film that I didn't want to end. It's fascinating to see at once the depths of his humanity and separation from the average person; he's an in-touch genius who knows exactly what consumers want and how to make it beautiful but also a computer titan who can buy a house without pause and doesn't bat an eye at wiring twenty-five-thousand-dollars. I want to keep watching Jobs' life unfold; I want to keep watching his genius; I want to keep seeing his plans and designs. If that's not success then I don't know what is.

 
 

TL;DR: I don't know shit about the life of Steve Jobs. I don't have the inclination to read a biography. But damn if it isn't interesting. Fassbender does a spectacular job bringing him back to life, and I'm sure that the man himself would be utterly pleased by Boyle's directorial depiction of these moments in his life, from the friendships to the arguments to the genius to the beauty and even the emotion.

  • Acting – 19 / 20
  • Story – 15 / 20
  • Cinematography – 17 / 20
  • Soundtrack – 7 / 10
  • Entertainment Factor – 7 / 10
  • Biographical/Drama – 7 / 10
  • Other – 5 / 10
 

Grade C = 77 / 100