Innovation. It’s the OS of this film, both thematically poignant and functionally integral to Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Apple’s co-founder and eventual CEO was a pioneer and visionary, changing the world of ‘personal computing’ forever. He innovated, orchestrated, while those around him stagnated. He professed himself an auteur; those who argued got a resounding middle-finger until they stopped saying it or died.
The relentless pace, sleek repartee, ruthless editing and Boyle’s efficient manipulation of space and character combine to create a cinematic showcase of innovation, even if it’s more of an ‘S’ version of current biopic fare rather than a full numerical advancement.
"boyle's film cracks the biopic mould, if not breaking it outright"
Steve Jobs (not to be mistaken with the woeful Jobs) is centred around three product launches; the ill-fated maiden voyage of the original Macintosh in 1984, the even more catastrophic launch of the astronomically priced NeXT cube in 1988 and finally the breakout success of the iMac in 1998. The story is told through a series of conflicts between Jobs (Michael Fassbender) and the people closest to him: his marketing executive Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), his best friend and co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), his CEO and father-figure John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), tech wiz Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his daughter Lisa. These battles take place primarily back-stage and in Jobs’ dressing room, all in confined areas which Boyle conducts with end-to-end control (the only way Steve himself would have it). In fact, only the emotional climax is set outside. The supporting characters act like a prism, offering various angles and each refracting a different light on Jobs’ complexities as a human being. This stark portrait of Jobs, his struggle with the world around him which he believes cannot keep pace, is the arc by which the film lives and dies. Such is the brilliance of Boyle and his excellent cast, it very much lives; despite having no discernable plot. Cracking the biopic mould, if not breaking it outright.
Undoubtedly the best moments of Steve Jobs are born by Aaron Sorkin’s script, returning to the kind of dynamic and absurdly entertaining, intelligent writing that saw him win an Oscar for the brilliant Social Network. Luckily, 99% of the film is driven by the electric dialogue. I would be unsurprised if someone told me they were exhausted by the rhetoric, but at the same time many will find its synergy of tech jargon and organic back-and-forth deeply rewarding. The humour is nuanced, avoiding feeling forced, and there are some great nods to Jobs’ later masterpieces, the iPhone and the iPod. Some convoluted editing occasionally hampers the flow, however this only seeks to emphasise the processing power of these incredible minds, and works as a metaphor for the evolution of the industry.
I’m going to give this film a five-star rating. Partly as it was a thrilling portrait of a tyrannical genius who placed the world in our pockets. But also because, after the underwhelming splodge that was Spectre smashed box office, I’m perplexed at the financial sufferings of Steve Jobs.
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