Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Film Review: Steve Jobs


Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin bring us a fascinating and unconventional tale of an enigmatic douche that changed the world whilst wearing a black turtleneck. No, I’m not talking about Sterling Archer - I mean Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs isn’t your conventional biopic. Rather than plodding through its subjects entire life story, director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have crafted a poetic film where three important moments from Steve Jobs’ (Michael Fassbender) career have been captured like indelible Polaroids; the unveiling of the original Macintosh computer in 1984, the NeXT platform in 1988 and, finally, the colourful Perspex iMac launch in 1998.

Each segment captures Jobs’ personal relationships, career path and legacy at each important milestone, whether its his own technological advancements or the tenuous relationships he shares with everyone around him – from his aide Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) or the mother of his child Chrisann (Katherine Waterson).

Given that Sorkin pens the film, you can expect some clever wordplay throughout. At times, the rat-a-tat sparring the characters exchange can feel a little dizzying as vicious barbs and snarky wit fly back and forth at breakneck speed. The swift verbal jousting keeps the film trotting along at a decent pace though, for both better and worse.

At just a smidge over two hours, the film feels a little rushed as Sorkin attempts to cram everything we need to know about Jobs into his distinct three-act structure. Everything is essential and nothing is wasted, but the film (and its characters) could’ve benefitted from being given extra room to breathe. Regardless, it’s practically criminal that Sorkin didn’t pick up an Oscar nomination for his stellar work on the sharp screenplay.

Punctuated with soaring highs and crushing lows, the film looks to cover the entire spectrum of Jobs’ tenacious and uncompromising persona. It’s here that the full extent of Fassbender’s performance comes to light; he’s rude, fierce, frustrating and fascinating all at the same time. The film doesn’t make Jobs out to be a complete monster or an untouchable saint, and Fassbender works this captivating ambiguity into every line of dialogue and movement.

Despite not being the third, fourth or even fifth choice for the role during pre-production (Christian Bale, Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio amongst many others were all considered at one point or another), Fassbender totally owns every second of screen-time in this film. It’s a very wordy role that showcases a very different range of talents to more physical and introspective Oscar performances from DiCaprio and Eddie Redmayne.

That being said, he’s no Ashton Kutcher (kidding).

Winslet is a little hit-and-miss as she struggles to wrap her mouth around a tricky Polish accent; Rogen showcases a more sincere side as the under-appreciated cofounder; and rising Aussie star Sarah Snook lands a few decent laughs with her limited screentime.

Boyle does a serviceable job behind the camera, but had his name not been plastered across the stark white one-sheets then you’d be hard pushed to connect this film with anything he’s worked on previously. When I think Danny Boyle, I think lurid colours (Trance), grimy urban jungles (Trainspotting) and rapid flash cuts that make you jump (28 Days Later). Steve Jobs feels very clean and procedural by comparison, with only a few of Boyle’s distinctive fingerprints left behind on the sleek brushed-steel surface. It’s solid, but nothing spectacular.

The Verdict: 8.5/10


Boyle and Sorkin delve into the mind of Steve Jobs and present us with a complex lead that you love to hate; snappy dialogue, a dense plot and some terrific acting make this a worthwhile biopic that avoids some common pratfalls. The direction lacks flair and the pacing doesn’t let up, but on the whole, this is one biopic that can be enjoyed by Apple nerds and intrigued newcomers alike.

Steve Jobs opens in cinemas across Australia tomorrow (February 4th).

This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.

4 comments:

  1. Great write up! I enjoyed this film, even though it didn't feel like a typical Danny Boyle movie. Michael Stuhlbarg was very good in it. He's so underrated.

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    1. Thanks Brittani! :) I like this film more and more on reflection. Really well executed.

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  2. Nice review.

    I thought this film was great, and it once again proves that you don't always need a *likable* main character to be compelling. I know DiCaprio is the frontrunner for the Oscar, but I'm honestly more impressed with Fassbender's performance as Jobs.

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    1. Good point, he did do a really great job here :)

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