Steve Jobs (2015)
Steve Jobs (2015)

Genre: Drama Running Time: 2 hr. 2 min.

Release Date: October 23rd, 2015 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Danny Boyle Actors: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Perla Haney-Jardine, Sarah Snook, John Ortiz

 


 

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t’s 1984 and Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) prepares for the launch of the Macintosh computer. With the aid of his trusted marketing chief, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), the assertive idea-man prepares for the presentation while demanding perfection from his development team, which includes programmer Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) and electronics engineer Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen). When Macintosh sales fail to meet the expectations of both Apple’s board and CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), Jobs is let go from the company. Undeterred, he begins planning his next creation in an elaborate strategy to vanquish his rivals, retake his place at the head of Apple, and perhaps even repair the strained relationships with those closest to him.

Initiating with the suspense and tension of a potentially faulty product launch, or a presentation that might not live up to expectations, “Steve Jobs” paints an amusing portrait of a technology magus with no real invention skills and an abundance of family and professional drama. His success is wrought from egotism, determination, and cutthroat business tactics – or a distinct ruthlessness presumably inherent in billionaire industrialists. Here, however, the titular character is given a shot at dramatic revelations and redemptions that make for an outstanding piece of cinema.

But one of the major problems also resides in that exact mode of dramatization. Since this story is based on a real person, many of the emotional and poignant interactions contain more than a touch of disbelief. Surely the actual people portrayed didn’t lead such perfectly cinematic lives and relationships. It’s a shame “Steve Jobs” wasn’t pure fiction; there’s a certain negative baggage dragged around by the likelihood of factual details becoming exaggerated or manipulated for the sake of aesthetic and thematic conflict.

Fortunately, whether spurious or precise, the players are all at the top of their games. Winslet disappears into her role at the start (taking on a quaint Polish accent), while Fassbender is sensational in commanding the role of a generally disagreeable (yet nonetheless human) antihero, full of unwavering resolve in spite of constant ups and downs in personal matters and business interactions alike. Supporting cast members are also entirely convincing, though none can overtake Fassbender’s momentum.

Envisioning himself in a Julius Caesar position surrounded by betrayers, Jobs has his disposition and sanity scrutinized in this biting character study of disillusionment, domination, and self-destructive megalomania – though the outcome is fortune and reverence rather than ruin and contempt. “Don’t play stupid,” insists Sculley. “You can’t pull it off.” Like a less comedic version of “Birdman,” the camera and supporting cast clamor around the central character, advising, admonishing, and criticizing Jobs’ maneuvers, all while reveling in the chaos of backstage, behind-the-scenes, last-minute stresses and follies.

Thanks to writer Aaron Sorkin, the script is full of comedic exchanges (like a severer “Silicon Valley”), interspersed with rapid-fire, carefully spoken, intensely structured conversations (like in Sorkin’s own television series “The Newsroom”) that poetically return to previous references and provide opportunities for rise-and-fall dynamism. Also comparable to the writer’s previous work “The Social Network,” “Steve Jobs” manages to take a controversial, debated man and turn him into an unusual protagonist, full of distrust and malice that never completely intervenes with chances at capitalization and prosperity. The character development and sharp dialogue are creatively edited around three specific events in Jobs’ career, further allowing for a narrow account of transformation and progress that are too artistically potent to believably represent a true persona. But as long as audiences are able to overlook the nagging question of authenticity, the entertainment value is remarkably high.

– The Massie Twins

  • 8/10