Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Jeff Daniels, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan
I have used Apple computers for 10 years now, since beginning my studies as a Graphic Designer. Since then it is a Brand that has been with me almost day and night with my job and personal life. As a company, I get frustrated about the ripping off of customers and the not-so-intuitive releases since the passing of Steve Jobs. Saying that, Jobs’ influence on the digital world needs no explanation, he was not the technical guy or the developer, he was the designer who knew how to get the most out of a group of people. I was extremely excited when I sat down to watch Steve Jobs, to see what it may have been like for this well-respected individual.
In Steve Jobs we are taken behind the scenes of three important product launches of the past 30 years, moving from 1984, to 1988, and finally 1998 at the unveiling of the iMac, a turning point in the computer industry.
In cinema, sometimes a lead performance comes along that you can’t help but admire. An actor who can successfully dominate a movie from start to finish is something to behold, and this applies without saying to Michael Fassbender in his portrayal as Steve Jobs.
Fassbender owns every scene throughout the length of this movie. He looks like Jobs, and has the no-bullshit attitude that I am very confident Jobs had too. I really cannot think of a single actor who could have portrayed this role any better (Ashton Kutcher…? Hmm).
This film concentrates strongly on confrontation. Throughout its 120 minutes there isn’t a scene where Jobs isn’t being confronted by a business problem, family affair or friendship issue. It is this that drives the story forward through the 14 years, seeing his relationships with these people hang on a thread as he works to create a new digital revolution.
From the beginning we get an automatic sense that Steve Jobs was, well, a bit of an asshole (as described by Steve Wozniaki, fantastically acted by Seth Rogan, my favourite performance by him along with 50/50). He describes himself as the one who plays the orchestra, he refuses to acknowledge Apple’s previous milestones during presentations, and his relentless aggression towards others really paints a bad portrait of this man. But, at the end of the day, this is why Steve Jobs became a revolutionary icon, and it was vital that this was portrayed in this story, and it did so very well.
Like the technology Jobs loves, he himself comes across here as a bit of a computer. He doesn’t display much sense of empathy or emotion towards his fellow peers, all he wants is the very best his work can offer. But it is his relationship with his daughter that really opens him up and we get to see his human side (the final scene of this movie brings us back to the very first series of events, and ends with both of them in shot as per the opening sequence). He softens when she is around, and their relationship seems to blossom whenever they are discussing technology. We see Lisa paint a picture on the Macintosh, we see her inquisitively asking her dad about the cube, and finally we see her switch mood as they discuss 1000’s of songs in your pocket instead of that brick of a Walkman. This comparison between his love affair with digital and the love he has for his daughter gives a nice sense of balance to their relationship, and it flourishes here.
The dialogue in this movie is spectacular, the writing by Aaron Sorkin is simply fantastic. We flow fluently through shots through speech, there is no action to interrupt, we simply have dialogue and it at times is relentless and powerful. There are some truly great pieces of writing here that is perfectly performed by its lead cast. As mentioned before Fassbender does an incredible job, but we also have Jeff Daniels in a great display, Kate Winslet as the powerful Marketing manager and Seth Rogan killing it as Steve Wozniaki. These four together offer four different personalities that give the whole movie multiple dimensions and makes for compelling viewing.
I have always been a huge fan of Danny Boyle. My first Boyle experience was Shallow Grave, at the time it was one of my all time favourite films as a young teenager, but back then any new movie I seemed to watch became my new favourite. The later Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and 127 Hours have really shaped Boyle into a very visionary Director (special mention to 127 hours on the inevitable arm cut scene, which had me wincing in the cinema). Here with Steve Jobs though he has taken a different approach to the style of camera work and is a great Directing decision. We aren’t treated to quick snappy edits, interesting close-ups or arty shots as shown in his previous movies. In contrast each scene is very smooth, we are constantly moving with the characters and ensuring that the dialogue is taking precedent here.
Overall we have here a fantastic combination of great directing, fantastic scriptwriting and spectacular acting by its main four leads. It makes for compelling viewing about this mans approach to his passion, and for certain is a fitting tribute to a man who not only changed the way we connect digitally, but also helped provide us with beautiful Pixar movies and a speech that reminds us that in our lives, we should stay hungry. Stay foolish.