A brilliant performance from Michael Fassbender which is only accentuated by Kate Winslet
The Apple products, thankfully, fall into the background in a story that focuses on Steve Jobs the man and those who were closest to him.Steve Jobs is a film about Steve Jobs. It’s an insight into the mind of a man, that despite eventually becoming hugely successful, struggled with his relationships — both personal and professional. The film's structure is broken into three distinguishable acts that each take place right before a product launch and span a 14 year period, the first starting in 1984 with the launch of the Apple Macintosh, then 1988 with the NeXT computer and finally in 1998 with the iMac. In each act we witness Jobs navigate his way through a series of conversations with the same 6 people: head of communications Joanna Hoffman, CEO John Sculley, programmer Andy Herzfeld, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, ex girlfriend Chrisann and their daughter Lisa. We are given an insight into how Jobs’s mind works and the impact it has on those around him.Jobs is determined to be the best and is set on making an impact on the world through the creation of his computers. The relationship between Jobs and Hoffman is far deeper than any relationship Jobs has with either his daughter or her mother, but always remains purely plutonic. Each of the six people Jobs talks to before the launch all interact with him differently but Jobs always remains the same, he doesn’t alter his tone or the way he interacts with different people. It’s through these conversations we are given insight into the sort of person Jobs was, how he lacked interpersonal skills by condescending and mocking people on a frequent basis. The manner with which he talks to Chrisann and Lisa is probably the most disquieting as it appears he has no regard for them whatsoever. With each act the strain on Jobs’s relationships with these six different people are put to the test.
David Fincher was originally set to direct Steve Jobs but disputes over fees and marketing control led to Fincher leaving and Danny Boyle taking over the helm. Adding to the pre-production tension pot was Job’s widow, Lauren Powell Jobs, who was trying to prevent the film's production. But despite all the ups and downs, the film eventually got made. The screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin, who wrote The Social Network, another film about an extremely intelligent young man. Sorkin broke the action into three distinguishable acts each centred around a product launch. Complimenting each act is cinematographer Alwin H. Küchler’s use of different filming methods to accentuate the different year in which it is set; 1984 is filmed on rough 16 mm giving it a muted and home made look, 1988 is shot on 35 mm and the final act in1998 is shot on a hi res digital camera, giving it that super sharp and crystal edged look. The use of different cameras not only accentuates the different times in which the film is set, it also adds deeper meaning to what is actually happening on screen. Each segment marks a different stage in Jobs's life, his launching of the Apple Macintosh while still working with Apple, his departure from Apple and the launch of his own NeXT computer and finally his possible return to Apple with the groundbreaking iMac.
The ensemble cast fits perfectly with Sorkin’s dialogue heavy script and a regimented rehearsal allowed the cast to master it beautifully. Boyle implemented a two week rehearsal followed by a two week shooting schedule for each of the 40 minute acts and the scenes were shot in sequence, which is highly unusual, but adds an element of realism to the real time action on screen. The whole film is confined to the corridors and back rooms of the exhibition halls in which the product launches take place. The use of a Steadicam allows the characters to move freely throughout the space whilst allowing the audience to follow the conversation into the various backstage areas the public would never usually have access to. This also acts as a metaphorical idea of the multiple corridors in Jobs’s brain each following a different train of thought which Jobs moves to and from frequently. Quite often the characters are left eavesdropping on heated discussions outside closed doors which can only signify that what was said in the conversations isn’t necessarily fact, but the result of Sorkin taking a certain amount of creative freedom from the information he took from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs.
As the film progresses you start to see the complicated layers of Steve Jobs slowly peel away.
Michael Fassbender’s interpretation of Steve Jobs is performed with such close attention to detail that it is easy to forget that it is an actor on screen. Fassbender is overbearing and arrogant and is complimented by Kate Winslet’s Joanna Hoffman, the Polish-American sidekick and confidant to Jobs. Winslet adds a certain amount of depth to Job’s character through her failure to be intimidated by him and enables the audience to humanise Jobs who is otherwise very robotic in his interactions with those around him. Seth Rogan is seen in a role that demands a lot more seriousness than many of his previous comedic roles have, playing the part of Steve Wozniak, who was there with Jobs from the very beginning. Wozniak’s character is honest and wants to acknowledge the ‘little guys’ but always comes up against Jobs, who shares little to none of the decency Wozniak holds. Jeff Daniels plays the part of John Sculley, the CEO that Jobs hired for Apple and plays the part of a sort of father figure to Jobs. The whole cast work together perfectly in the film and as a result the relationships progress just as much as their wardrobes do.
Steve Jobs is enjoyable and offers a fly-on-the-wall opportunity for the audience to experience what it might have felt like to be Steve Jobs and those around him. The film is paced well and never feels stilted or halted. The only let down for some might be the ending which seems to wrap things up all too neatly in a bow but (and this is just my interpretation) it might be seen as a ‘what could have happened’ type of ending as the canted camera angles offer a slightly warped perspective, almost as if this is what the perfect ending would have looked like. Overall, Steve Jobs is a surprisingly enjoyable watch with great performances all round.
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