Boyle, Sorkin, Fassbender and Winslet deliver some of their best work in this talky if invigorating three-act ‘cinematic theatre’ centering on the Apple co-founder.
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston
Plot: Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, the film takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicentre.
Awards: Nom. for 2 Oscars – Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actress
Subject Matter: Moderate – Steve Jobs; Apple; Digital Revolution
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
Steve Jobs never got a theatrical release in Singapore, which still boggles the mind, but Netflix would save the day seven years later.
It’s probably Danny Boyle’s finest film of the 2010s decade, collaborating with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin who is terrific as always, and Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet, both of whom deliver some of their best acting work.
Steve Jobs is an unconventional biopic that doesn’t tell us about the life of its subject from cradle to grave but instead focuses on three pivotal moments of his career, structured literally as a three-act narrative. It is talky but Boyle’s invigorating visual style turns it into ‘cinematic theatre’.
For audiences who love verbal confrontations and witty conversations, Steve Jobs is the right kind of vibe, plus it shows us a side, albeit with dramatic liberty, of the Apple co-founder that only his closest associates were privy to.
“They won’t know what they’re looking at or why they like it, but they’ll know they want it.”
Fassbender’s portrayal of Jobs is at times unsavoury and self-centred, but Boyle builds enough empathy through the character’s connection with his estranged daughter.
Fassbender and Winslet’s chemistry makes the film tick as they deliver Sorkin’s barrage of words with effortless ease. Sparks fly, but there are also stirrings of the heart, which makes Steve Jobs a stylish and personal film.
1984, 1988 and 1998 were three significant years for product launches in Jobs’ career, yet Boyle never shows us re-enactments of his presentations.
This is strategic and shrewd because firstly, it makes us yearn for something that doesn’t materialise on screen (well, history has already materialised and been archived); and secondly, it focuses on the moments prior to his time in the spotlight as he struggles to manage his thoughts, relationships and feelings.
His tech products may be near flawless, but the person behind them was as vulnerable a soul as any.