Sorkin. Boyle. Fassbender. Winslet. Rogen. This had all the ingredients for a perfect biopic. BUT it failed to impress on so many levels.
Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint a portrait of the man at its epicentre. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.
From the director of Trainspotting and penned by the man who brought you The West Wing. Maybe I went with too high an expectation. The meandering opener with Arthur C. Clarke predicting the inevitable invasion of personal computers and their insertion into everyday lives didn’t really get things going for me. It was certainly haunting. Especially as I was writing notes on my iPhone while watching the thing.
Michael Fassbender was superb. He delivered a stellar performance BUT a fitting one? Well, that’s another story. We join the technical genius during the 1984 Mackintosh fair. It was typical Sorkin which, for the first 30 minutes, ticked all the boxes. Fast talking, quick witted, highly quotable (“The orchestra play their instruments and I play the orchestra”). And, of course, the hallway walking. Oh, the hallway walking.
We watch Jobs have a fit over the Mac’s interface as it crashes before the big moment. I understand that films always dramatize and exaggerate BUT Sorkin and Boyle really go out of their way to make Jobs appear to be such a ruthless and egotistical manipulator. I mean normally nine times out of ten, most of these “geniuses” or “historical figures” have a screw loose. BUT it’s convenient that the film was made after Job’s death.
It certainly changed perceptions BUT after his passing, you got a sense of the techno wizard. And then to see him torn to pieces and portrayed as a callous liar, it was a little tough to swallow. BUT at the same breath, it spiced up what was quite a dull affair.
The techno babble did tragically go over my head. BUT I was able to gather that Jobs was streaming things that weren’t part of the package or technically didn’t even exist. He exploited and stole components from any one he could. Even his own friend Steve Wozniak.
It was good to see Seth Rogen do some semi-serious acting for a change. He didn’t do a bad turn as Wozniak. Loitering around the conferences like a bad smell. Merely wanting acknowledgment for Job’s plagiarism. Nothing more. Or was he?
Kate Winslet worked well with Fassbender and delivered a reasonable turn as Job’s long suffering assistant Joanna Hoffman. The pair zinged off each other and really made Sorkin’s lines snap. BUT my main issue was her accent. Hoffman was Polish American. It felt like halfway through the film, Winslet suddenly remembered this and tried to thicken the accent to Borat levels. Well, maybe not that bad but it was pretty noticeable.
As much as Boyle and Sorkin may have created a monster in Jobs, it was all rather mediocre and repetitive. They literally did the same thing in three different conferences with the same result. Jobs would bellow at techies, deny that he had a daughter, ignore Hoffman’s advice and then still be trusted with shed loads of money.
Jobs’ estranged relationship with his daughter Lisa certainly made things a little more interesting. He developed an algorithm to argue against the court ruling declaring him as the father. 94.1% was inconclusive, apparently. BUT what infuriated me was that it was brought in very early adding to the drama. Then nothing. Just more fast talking and walking. The subplot was only really brought back into the mix at the end. Shame.
I respected that Sorkin did eventually question the moral ambivalence of everyone. The intentions of Chrisann (Katherine Waterston – Inherent Vice), Jobs’ ex soon changed your loyalties. What appeared to be a genuine concern for her daughter’s welfare soon became a cash cow.
The flashbacks were a little disappointing. I expected a little more depth into Jobs’ personal background (Apparently he doesn’t have one). Not a regurgitation of what we’ve already been told or gathered. Only a little more shouty. There was a clever use of juxtaposition that meshed two different arguments between John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) and Jobs. The wrong doer ironically having the role reversed.
I wasn’t aware how disappointing a campaign Mac had after developing one of the most iconic adverts in history. There were some interesting stats being thrown around. Apple’s control of the market hitting an all time low. Factories closing. Projected sales turnovers of a million computers only reaching 35,000!
Jobs was a mastermind. BUT not in the admirable way (Is there one?). During his exile from Apple, he established a new company that was flogging a product that had nothing new to justify the incredibly steep price. Nothing but an expensive game of chess between the Apple execs. He knew they were after the tech that he was developing and would have to buy it from him.
It was watchable BUT I feel I’m making it more interesting than it was (Or not?). It was far too talky and too serious. I’m not sure whether it was out of desperation BUT Sorkin threw in odd quirks that didn’t make any sense. A scene in which Jobs cleans his feet in a toilet bowl struck me as odd and irrelevant.
I feel Sorkin pushed this into The Newsroom territory. A show I never really enjoyed. The grandiose and sanctimonious speeches over such petty and uninteresting things. There just wasn’t enough drama for my liking. Not enough exploration into Jobs’ past. I mean if these were the best moments of Job’s life, then yikes!
A mixed bag for me. Quick witted and brilliantly acted. BUT repetitive, heavy handed and dull. Maybe some stories shouldn’t be told.