DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs comes a year or so after another biopic of this pioneering computer genius of the modern age, Ashton Kutcher’s Jobs (2012). That movie was a decent enough biopic but a relatively tame, by the numbers effort which wore its reverence of its eponymous lead character squarely on its sleeve.
But now on to the real deal. Aaron Sorkin, who in my opinion is one of the very best screenwriters working today, famed for The West Wing (1999 – 2006) and Newsroom (2012 – 2014) on the small screen as well as A Few Good Men (1993) and The Social Network (2010) on the big, to name a few, penned this three act play which would be directed by the Oscar winning British director, Boyle.
There is no time for overt reverence here. As with Jobs, the troubled story of how Steve would alienate his friends as they built his dreams is told, but here, this feels more brutal, candid and revealing. It is left to us to determine how much of an arse-hole he was, how much of an artist or genius, or user he may have been.
The film builds Jobs up, mounting him on a pedestal of a true visionary, a conclusion which few would contest within the end, Boyle and Sorkin, through a complexly manipulative screenplay and movie, manage to create what I believe to be a definitive portrait of a man who struggled with his own demons, as he tried to change the world for himself and maybe he genuinely hoped to change it for everyone else’s betterment in the process, that, nobody will truly every know.
There are certainly echoes of The Social Network here.
But the results of this revolution of which Steve Jobs was an integral part, are here for all to see. Literally as I write this review for an internet of free press for all, this is what he was talking about. But he also wanted control of it, to shape it and its users, us, in the process. This can be interpreted in many ways, some good as well as malevolent but in the end, Steve Jobs is an attempt to understand the man who compared his work to art through the artistic lens of a true artist. Danny Boyle and the wordsmithy of Aaron Sorkin.
Taking on so many artistic concepts to craft this somewhat underrated masterpiece, Boyle made the choice, from the suggestion of his art director, to shoot the film’s three forty-minute acts, each set in real time before a product launch, the first being of the Macintosh in 1984, the second, his computers for school scam, NeXT and finally in 1998 with the iMac, each in a different film format.
Opening with 16mm, then on to 35mm and concluding with digital, the look is on the screen for those to notice or to take in subconsciously. This is a play spanning 14 years, evolving the character of Jobs through the veil of Michael Fassbender as the man himself, Kate Winslet and his loyal aide, Seth Rogan as possibly the Francis Bacon to William Shakespeare, Steve Wazinack and Jeff Daniel’s as his beleaguered C.E.O. All of whom excel as they lead an almost flawless cast through an unconventional biopic about and iconoclastic leader of industry.
On my first viewing I was impressed, but on repeat viewings I am blown away by how riveting this is. The performances alone are just thrilling to watch, as they spit out two hours of relentless dialogue through three fictional acts, in which almost everything is contrived from fact, thought it never actually happened at these times or in these ways. But it doesn’t matter. This is made up. This is taken from fact, anecdotes and character analyses. This is how you can dramatise a real life set up in which people just talk about computers and child support without it feeling stale.
Boyle and his team/cast breathed life into screenplay which had itself energised the story of Jobs’ rise, fall and rejuvenation over the 80’s and 90’s. Smart, emotive and inspiring, this is must see for all, anyone who remembers this time and this evolution of computing to this generation who are living and breathing it. Pay reverence to one of the architects of this technological age in which we live.
On every level this works but ultimately, as a film and as a tribute not just to Steve Jobs but to a time of titanic innovation in the fabric of sociality as we know it, Boyle and Sorkin have knocked this one out of the park.