Thursday, November 05, 2015
STEVE JOBS (Danny Boyle, 2015)
As the title character in STEVE JOBS, Michael Fassbender is a prickly and ruthless assessor of those surrounding him, especially when others’ visions don’t match his in the computer business. Director Danny Boyle’s film is broken into three parts as Jobs prepares for product launches. The first, set in 1984, shows Jobs in the final minutes before revealing the Apple Macintosh. The machine’s voice demonstration isn’t working, which is thoroughly unacceptable to Jobs. Meanwhile, he has to deal with other Apple employees who want to talk and ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), who has brought along Lisa, the daughter that Jobs has vociferously denied is his. The film jumps to 1988 with Jobs, now on his own after Apple’s business struggles, preparing to introduce the NeXT computer. The final section takes place in 1998 as Jobs readies the debut of the iMac.
In adapting Walter Isaacson’s Jobs biography, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin treats the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple as an incomparable genius, jerk, and tragic figure of Shakespearean proportions. He’s brilliant and stubborn to a fault. These traits serve him well as he strives for excellence with the computer but cause friction with co-workers and friends. At Apple Jobs insists upon a closed system. Sorkin makes the leap that Jobs gained control in the devices his company manufactured perhaps as a substitute for that which he couldn’t exert in life.
STEVE JOBS mostly takes place backstage and in the auditorium, giving the protagonist big areas to move about, yet Boyle creates a visual sense of being self-contained similar to how like the plastic shells housing the computer hardware. The fly rigging in the background of one scene hints at being beside a massive circuit board. The papers Jobs lays out in a grid resemble a tile interface.
Fassbender portrays Jobs as believing he’s the biggest brain in a room with plenty of stiff competition. He speaks like a logician and bristles when what computes perfectly in Jobs’ mind doesn’t with yield the same calculation by others. The film’s verbal dexterity is one of its chief pleasures, with comedic insults and oneupmanship in great supply. STEVE JOBS touches upon the personal side of the business icon, but ultimately it gets to know him how he would have preferred: through his work.