Steve Jobs (2015)
dir. Danny Boyle
written by: Aaron Sorkin
starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston
3.75 out of 4 stars
Capturing the life of an influential individual who has been covered by Walter Isaacson is not a task to be undertaken in comprehension. In the ever repetitious events of Steve Jobs professional and personal life, the details of such an event laden lifetime overwhelms a single movie (i.e. Jobs, the horrid 2013 biopic of Steve Jobs career from college to iPod). On dramatic effort number two, the very capable Oscar-winning duo of director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin develop an episodic three act play begging for stage adaptation. Covering the 1984 release of the Mac, the 1988 release of Job’s NeXT computer, and the 1998 release of the iMac, the movie presents equal part professional and personal Jobs while avoiding covering every step explicitly.
Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting takes the helm as director of the constant verbal masterpiece from Aaron Sorkin. Following the characters with a very Birdman attention with significantly more cuts, aided by cinematographer Alwin H Kuchler’s precise framing and editor Elliot Graham’s sharp cuts reminiscent of his work on Milk, the narrative is ever moving and remarkably tense. Boyle amps up the drama through measured verbal altercations through an ever rotating cast of recurring Apple-ites. Sorkin’s script, full of the masterful Sorkin-esque density of The West Wing and The Social Network, paints a narcissistic, determined, self-serving jobs, slowly attempting to grow while always watching after his own interests. Ample hilarious dialogue and seamless transitions decorate a snapshot of a complicated, influential life. Wrapped in the varied yet constantly engaging and appropriate score by Daniel Pemberton, this film is wrapped in a creative, lovely package.
Michael Fassbender stars as Jobs, portraying a self-involved jackass with a wallet of gold. Always aware of himself and the opportunities he monopolizes, Fassbender demonstrates the nerves and ire of a man all too assured of his own brilliance. Don’t get me wrong, Fassbender is not showing an emotionless man; he feels everything around him, but so often he doesn’t care or refuses to lose his own advantage. Allowing vulnerability in the face of his offspring, Jobs possesses a mild tenderness reminiscent of one who usually associates oneself with the technology one creates. Though it may not be exact impersonation, Fassbender creates yet another fantastic portrayal to his constant strong performances.
By Jobs side is Kate Winslet as Steve’s longtime colleague Joanna Hoffman, a Polish immigrant and marketing executive that moved along with Jobs’ career. Winslet, having recently won a Golden Globe for this role, is a sharp, funny spitfire and challenging antidote to Fassbender’s self-assured Jobs. The only player able to shutdown the tech icon, Winslet is expectedly ferocious but nearly unrecognizable in her dressed down but perfectly written role. As a standout among a formidable supporting cast, her role is ever welcome on screen; the audience just wants more of her wrangling on the unwieldy Steve.
Rounding out the cast are a selection of colleagues and family in his life. Seth Rogan has never been better than as Steve Wozniak. A strong lookalike, Rogan bumbles and smiles as the tech revolutionary while counteracting the unbearable Jobs. He’s confident and friendly until pushed too far; as co-creator of Apple, the years have cleared paid a toll on the ever friendly scientist. Rogan emotes more than ever before. Jeff Daniels excels as former Apple CEO John Sculley, bringing along the strength shown in The Martian and The Newsroom. Though very much typecast, Daniels knows where he succeeds with being on the edge of friendly with a thick coating of professionalism and intimidation. Michael Stuhlberg is barely recognizable as Apple engineer Andy Hertzfeld with a bright, forceful developer dealing with the demands and tantrums of the man in charge.
Katherine Waterson plays Steve’s baby mama Chrisann in a mostly forgettable part; this role always comes off as manipulative, lazy or borderline abusive, which seems to be not far from the truth. A revelation are the three young actresses–absurdly well cast lookalikes–playing his daughter Lisa: Makenzie Moss (age 5), Ripley Sobo (age 9), and Perla Haney-Jardine (age 19). Moss is innocent and attentive with her reluctant father. Her whisper of a voice is sparkling in her few scenes. Sobo breathes budding adolescent at an age where she looks up to her father but starts to acknowledge his lack of involvement. Perla is given the weightiest performance as the exhausted daughter of the recrowned Apple executive. Having made her debut as The Bride’s daughter in Kill Bill Vol 2, the actress is given some mud to sling at the father who has provided more negativity than fatherliness in her short life.
Combining an outstanding cast and crew, this movie is not the average biopic. Jobs has enough prestige, and Sorkin’s adaptation, though not true nonfiction, presents a troubled, challenging man as he and the members around him interacted at key points in a developing career. The performances are powerful, and the production is of the highest quality. Though the work is not accepted by all parties and has caused its share of controversy, he has presented a vision rather than an explanation of the tumult surrounding a legend.