By Peter Roslovich
Disclaimer: This review does not reflect opinions on the man Steve Jobs, but the 2015 Film and for the purposes of this review, it is better to think of him as a fictional character as the film has come under lots of fire for not being historically accurate.
Around the middle of the film, Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) looks at various portraits of great leaders as his face fades out and Napoleon’s fades in. This is the perfect summary of the film’s portrayal of him. The film director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) and writer Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, A Few Good Men) have collaborated on the new motion picture. It has been a combination that many people have been looking forward to in this film. And just as many people anticipated it to feel similar to Sorkin’s “The Social Network” in that it attempts to show what a man is truly like behind the public image that he creates.
The film is separated into three acts, each showing a different product launch that Jobs is involved with. The first of which is the release of the Macintosh in 1984, followed by the 1988 launch of the NeXT computer, and then finally the reveal of the iMac ten years later in 1998. Each of these acts portrays the short time before the launch, and then reflects an important part of Jobs’ life. Flashbacks tell the story of how Jobs, and his team, has reached the launches. One of the scenes shows Steve Jobs and friend Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) inventing a computer in their garage; it gives a look into their humble beginnings. Each launch also has key interactions with four people in Jobs’s life: Apple’s marketing executive, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), company CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), co-founder Steve Wozniak, and his daughter Lisa BrennanJobs (Perla HaneyJardine, Ripley Sobo, and Makenzie Moss). These people serve as nothing more than tools used to create a portrait of Jobs’s character.
Jobs is condescending, arrogant, spiteful, and just downright mean. He constantly refers to himself as an artist and quotes the bible when speaking about himself. This portrayal of Jobs is very interesting in that the film always cuts before the televised launches. The audience is given a sense of Steve Jobs behind the camera. While in much of the picture, Jobs remains egotistical, there are several scenes sprinkled in the film where his shell cracks, and signs of a man who only wants the best for his daughter are evident. The film is merely a frame for its main character, a Napoleonic figure who slowly gets off his high horse.
Since the film only takes place at product launches, many of the scenes are interiors. So for the film to work, the cinematography has to make these places look living and vibrant. It accomplishes this with flying colors. The cinematography is stunning in making mundane places seem almost holy. The interiors seem to be the kingdom of Jobs, the places he wishes to rule over in an authoritarian manner, and the halls ringing with portraits of great men only add to that effect. Then, when we are left alone with Jobs, the cinematography becomes very personal, showing a man who is beginning to crack under the façade he has created for himself.
Consensus Steve Jobs is something new and original in the way it tells its story, but it becomes trivial since the film has no other purpose than to show the man Steve Jobs was. Even if it takes large liberties in source material, it is a must watch for anybody who is interested in men of power.