Steve Jobs

But there is one more thing...


By Louis Balzani
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WATCH THIS IF:

  • You’re not yet worn out on media focusing on the life of Steve Jobs.
  • You’re a fan of Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue-heavy films and TV shows.

Had enough of Steve Jobs yet? Since the death of the Apple co-founder in 2011, countless books, films, and TV specials have focused on the fallen tech icon and the legacy he left behind. The latest media creation to arrive at this party is Steve Jobs, and it carries the most distinguished Hollywood pedigree to ever grace this story. Director Danny Boyle helmed Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. Writer Aaron Sorkin penned The Social Network and A Few Good Men. Its star-studded cast, including Michael Fassbender and Seth Rogen, appeared in countless films over the years. It’s this heavyweight presence that elevates Steve Jobs above the rest, despite it wading into well-traveled narrative waters with little to add that we haven’t seen before.

Unlike other Jobs-centric films, this one takes place directly before the launch of three major products: the Macintosh, the first NeXT workstation, and the iMac. The film uses that as a springboard to explore the various turmoils of Jobs’s life, including his aggressive personality, his battles against replacement Apple CEO John Sculley, and his strained relationship with his daughter, Lisa. These explorations prove thorough and moving, and its balanced portrayal of Jobs as both driven and maniacal separate it from other cinematic depictions that primary serve to sit him on a pedestal. Much of what Fassbender brings to the table here is that more nuanced and balanced approach; early on, Jobs is vicious and unreasonable, but as the film progresses through time, he becomes much more aware of his flaws and past mistakes, and they begin to eat away at him until he’s finally compelled to make everything right.

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Encouragingly, the film focuses on the key people around Jobs as much as Jobs himself. Jeff Daniels imbues his John Scully with drive and compunction as he wrestles Apple from Jobs’s hands. As Jobs’s former partner-in-crime Steve Wozniak, Seth Rogen plays up his idiosyncrasies while illustrating how the growing rift between the two has left him downtrodden. The breakout performance, however, comes from Kate Winslet at Joanna Hoffman, Apple’s marketing guru. She essentially serves as right-hand woman to Jobs, acting as a voice of reason and sometimes (quite literally) cleaning up his messes. Winslet does an exceptional job of illuminating her stresses, concerns, and agonies, and it’s touching to see how much the two genuinely need each other. She completely nails Hoffman’s unique accent, and it’s a joy to watch her spar with Jobs without backing down.

All of this, of course, is thanks to the fact that Aaron Sorkin’s script is fantastic. Characters scream over each other. Insults visibly sting their targets. Dialogue flows so beautifully, it becomes music unto itself – it’s every bit the verbal ballet we’ve come to expect from him. Some accuse his writing of being overly-romanticized and unrealistic, and to a certain degree, that’s true; no one can constantly be as witty or well-spoken as his characters are. I’ve found that some people have a love-hate relationship with Sorkin’s writing, so whatever your opinion of him is, know that he dials himself up here.

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There’s one glaring flaw, however, and unfortunately, it’s one that the movie has no control over. Ever since Jobs died, the media has focused incessantly on chronicling his life and untimely demise, so much so that it’s been difficult not to learn about his story. Because it’s based on real life, the film can only employ so much artistic license before it strays too far from the source material. This necessary adherence to reality means that we’ve essentially heard it all before – for some of us, we’ve heard it dozens of times. Admittedly, there’s only so much you can do when you’re tethered to the events of someone’s life, but the fact remains that the revelation of Steve Jobs denying paternity of his daughter simply isn’t much of a revelation anymore.

Without question, though, the film is quite good; it runs laps around 2014’s Jobs, and Fassbender vividly outshines Ashton Kutcher as the titular tech guru. Though it never quite adds up to anything groundbreaking, its individual elements play off each other very well, and at it’s core, it’s a solid, character-driven night at the movies. If you’re not yet burned out on the sprawling tale of Steve Jobs, then you should give this a look since it’s more or less the definitive cinematic take on the story. If you’re not interested in the source material, or if you’ve simply had enough of this Jobs business, then this isn’t the movie for you – though you probably already knew that.

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