Steve Jobs (2015) Review:
Every great filmmaker has a signature style to identify them. They might dabble between different genres and mediums, but at the core of it, the audience is able to say “That felt like one of theirs”. Some are easier to pick up on than others but nevertheless the song remains the same. Aaron Sorkin is one such artist. Give that man an office, some hallways and a few deeply flawed characters and you’ll have a “talkie” in every sense of the word. His dialogue is so recognizable that fans of his work can suss out the specific lines he’s used in various projects. As Sorkin was the mastermind behind the last big biopic to come out of Silicon Valley, it seemed only fitting that he be the one to peg a Steve Jobs film.
God Complexes: Aaron Sorkin's forte
A Sorkin film this most certainly is. At this point it’s impossible to not have at least some idea who Steve Jobs was. There’s already been a biopic with Ashton Kutcher, a documentary and a best-selling biography. Steve Jobs is not an unknown property, so the “Untold Story” aspect of this biopic wasn’t exactly at the focus. Instead, the movie actually takes an interesting (?) direction with the way it’s set up. Essentially, the film shows you 3 days in Steve’s life with a few flashbacks here and there. Each of those three days takes place in a different year, one in ’84, one in ’88, and one in ’98. Each are also centred on a particular product launch. Namely, The Macintosh, The NeXTcube and The iMac.
Because it was structured this way, ‘Steve Jobs’ always feels like it’s in a state of panic. Every scene you watch is in anticipation of an event that you never really see. You see Steve prepare to unveil what he calls the next revolution in not just computing, but human connection, however, you never actually see the unveiling. This helps to move the film along at a breakneck speed, mostly because the characters can’t afford to slow down.
The trouble is, choosing this way to structure the film also makes it feel like an extreme exaggeration. At each event, Steve has confrontations with each of the same people in his life. Steve Wozniak, played by Seth Rogen, John Scully, played by Jeff Daniels, Andy Hertzfeld, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, his daughter Lisa at various stages of her life, and Lisa’s mother, Jobs’ ex-girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan played by Katherine Waterston. To think that at each of his product launches the same 5 people were present, is improbable and takes away from the immersion of the film. It feels like a forced ensemble cast of characters for Steve to bounce off of as he walks from room to room and ultimately feels a little hollow.
That being said, once you let go of any misgivings you might have, the movie does entertain. As I said the movie has zero pacing problems as Sorkin often doesn’t, and you do get swept up in the majesty that is Steve Jobs as you watch. The dialogue is filled with technical jargon but it all makes sense to the laymen, much like Apple products themselves. As a script goes, it’s snappy, it’s fun, it’s a good script. It also has its fair share of heart to it. Because the movie is so briskly paced, it doesn’t often slow down to deal with that heart, but when it does, it hits pretty well and that’s more than helped by the stellar cast.
Fassbender is an excellent Steve Jobs. He pulls off the dissociated, socially inappropriate genius well and gives a really well balanced performance. The voice, the mannerisms, the micro expressions. His unrelenting hubris with just a hint of humanity. All of it is here and Fassbender is fasstastic. You get a sense of Steve’s person as the film wants to present, which might be a little undefined but I think that might’ve been the point. The film basically at the end makes no apologies for Jobs’ behaviour but doesn’t endorse it either. It essentially says people are complicated and can’t really be categorized.
Everyone else here is great and Sorkin’s script helps to keep them all feeling like necessary parts of this whole. The real stand out is of course Seth Rogen’s Steve Wozniak. Rogen who is most famously known for comedic roles, doesn’t just do well as a comedian, he does well as an actor. You get the relationship that Wozniak and Jobs share based on their strong history, and the pain that can bring. The two can talk as old friends in one moment and then be in a shouting match in the next. He and Fassbender both make you forget who they are under the wardrobe and make-up, which is a feat for any big name actor.
As I said, ‘Steve Jobs’ is an entertaining film, and it has it’s heartfelt moments, but a lot of it does feel like something is missing. Because of the way it’s structured you feel like you’re always preparing for something that never comes. By the time you’ve figured out what’s going on, the movie pretty much ends. It’s not as impactful as ‘Social Network’ and ultimately feels like a tech demo of a film, but like, a really impressive one with flashing lights.
Rating: Half Price