Steve Jobs (2015)
Less an adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s biography of the same name & more a work of fiction, Steve Jobs is anything but a just portrait of its titular character for all this biopic attempts to do is to depict the worst aspects of the late Apple co-founder by stuffing the plot with fictional, inaccurate segments that are only meant to further exaggerate his human flaws, and it is very much evident in the film’s timeline for the plot is set around the young, immature & reckless years of Jobs’ life and completely ignores the era in which he scripted the greatest second innings ever played.
As a rendition of Jobs’ real life, Steve Jobs is an absolute disaster. As a fictional story however, it’s downright thrilling, tremendously entertaining & thoroughly riveting piece of storytelling that’s viciously written by Aaron Sorkin, brilliantly directed by Danny Boyle, and strongly performed by its cast, especially Michael Fassbender & Kate Winslet. In actuality, it isn’t even an adaptation of its source material as Sorkin only uses snippets from the book in his fabricated story that’s filled with fictitious characters who are assigned real names, and employs made up moments to enhance its drama.
The story of Steve Jobs is narrated in three segments, each set backstage & few minutes prior to the launch of an important product. The first act is set in 1984 and covers the behind-the-scene scenario before the unveiling of the Macintosh. The second act unfolds in 1988 and finds Jobs preparing for the NeXT Computer launch. And the third & final act takes place just before the premier of the iMac in 1998. The transitions are accompanied with montages which skim through the events that transpired between the two timelines. But what actually drives this feature is Jobs’ relationship with his daughter Lisa, his friend Steve Wozniak & his confidant Joanna Hoffman.
Directed by Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs is crafted with rigour, passion & enthusiasm and his energetic direction only adds extravagant flavours to its dialogue-driven plot, thus giving it a pageantry look n feel. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay brims with rapid-fire dialogues, memorable lines & engrossing conversations that keep the story on the verge of explosion at all times. Also, not only does Boyle attempt to do justice to Sorkin’s magnificent script but actually celebrates it with all he’s got. The narrative structure is undeniably impressive although the key product launch events Sorkin settles for is arguable. Another drawback is his one-sided approach in depicting Jobs as he only emphasises on Jobs’ infamous attributes.
The technical aspects are expertly executed with set pieces managing to recreate the ambience of the locations where these iconic products were launched, albeit with a few unnecessary modifications. Each act is shot in a different film format (16 mm, 35 mm & digital), and the quality of its images only improve as the plot progresses. Cinematography also gives a distinct look to each act with its apt use of colour palette while the fluid but controlled movements of the camera make the drama more immersive. Editing is tight & immaculately carried out and its 122 minutes of runtime is marvellously paced. Finally, the soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton also follows the three-act structure, with different set of instruments for each segment.
However, there’s one more thing. Steve Jobs features an outstanding ensemble in Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen & Jeff Daniels, with more support coming from Katherine Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg & three other girls who play the role of Jobs’ daughter Lisa in three different acts. Despite not an ounce of similarity in looks between the actor & the character he plays, Fassbender hits it out of the park with a really smashing performance as Steven Paul Jobs even if he’s constantly challenged by Winslet who is always around to leave her own mark in the role of Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ right-hand woman. Rogen exhibits the good-natured personality of Steve Wozniak in a sensible manner, Daniels also does well as the infamous John Sculley, while all three girls chosen to play Lisa chip in with fine contributions.
On an overall scale, Steve Jobs is nowhere close to bringing alive the life story of the greatest visionary of our time but it also succeeds as a masterwork of fiction filmmaking. While there are plenty of positives to be found in direction, acting, camerawork, editing & music, the only aspect that dominates it from beginning to end is Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay, compared to which all other elements only play second fiddle. An unexpected delight of the year that, despite being unable to paint an accurate picture of its titular character, delivers a movie experience that’s engaging from the first frame, gets more invigorating with every passing moment & finishes on a much rewarding note. Definitely one of the best films of 2015 that’s spearheaded by Sorkin’s razor-sharp script, Boyle’s vibrant direction & Fassbender’s compelling performance, Steve Jobs isn’t what it claims to be but as a fictionalised account, it still makes up for one hell of a ride.