Steve Jobs (2015)
★★★★ / ★★★★
One of the most beautiful elements in “Steve Jobs,” based on the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, is how the relationship between the Apple Inc. co-founder and his daughter is portrayed. Sure, there are numerous technical jargon involving products, how businesses work, and machines but when it matters the most, the picture, in its rawest form, is painfully human.
It is most refreshing that the father-daughter relationship, which starts off devastatingly sad, is allowed to change over time but there are no apologies, superfluous tears, hugging, or even an arm around someone’s shoulders. In the final shot we are only shown a decreasing distance between them. The filmmakers lead with the assumption that the viewers are intelligent.
Such an assumption can be found in many instances. For example, the material dares to drop us in the middle of the action in 1984 prior to the unveiling of the Apple Macintosh. No explanation is offered as to how we got there, who came up with what idea, and the sort of hardships required to make the final product. This way, we are immediately drenched in the core of the human drama and everything else, although still important to our further understanding of what is going on, are supporting details.
This is no standard biopic. It is the correct decision to focus only on three different product launches: the Apple Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT Computer in 1988, and the iMac 1998. The material is episodic, working almost like a play, but it works. For example, because we do not see Jobs between, say, 1988 and 1998, we notice immediately the changes in him, not only when it comes to aging but also in how he interacts with people.
And yet these changes do not feel sudden or complete turnaround. In the very first scene, we observe that Jobs is highly demanding, unpleasant, certainly ambitious, and in need of control. One might he argue that he is a bully. Later in the picture, he remains to embody such qualities but to a slightly lesser degree, perhaps a thirty to thirty-five percent decrease in intensity for each characteristic.
Michael Fassbender does a tremendous job at communicating the subtleties of the character despite a consistently intense and technical script. I loved the way that throughout the years, Fassbender’s version of Jobs moves slower, quieter in his confidence (but still sort of up himself, in parts), but remains cunningly smart. Equally strong is Kate Winslet, who plays Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ marketing manager, because she is able to find a balance between strength and softness while standing up to Jobs. Although Jobs and Hoffman’s relationship is strictly professional, their chemistry crackles and pops.
Based on the biography by Walter Isaacson, “Steve Jobs” is a highly watchable portrait of Apple Inc.’s former co-founder, chairman, and CEO because the writing is sharp and specific. It is supported by excellent performers who have the talent and experience when it comes to translating what’s on paper and making them cinematic by using varying intonations in their voices and modifying body language depending how a scene’s mood changes. The film engages all of the viewer’s senses from beginning to end and it rarely gets better than that.