“The thing that struck me was his intensity. Whatever he was interested in he would generally carry to an irrational extreme.” Jobs had honed his trick of using stares and silences to master other people. ” One of his numbers was to stare at the person he was talking to. He would stare into their fucking eyeballs, ask some question, and would want a response without the other person averting their eyes.”
So said Walter Isaacson of Steve Jobs in his breathtaking biography.
This, frankly scary, aspect of Steve Jobs’ personality is heavily sugar-coated in Danny Boyle’s excellent biopic and your requirement for absolute accuracy of detail could be the undoing of it for you, because you could drive a coach and horses through many of the structural, and representational, aspects of the film.
Boyle presents Jobs in an extremely positive light and this is surely not to satisfy his Estate as Isaacson’s Biog has already ripped him to pieces in personality terms. Kate Winslet’s role as Joanna Hoffman, his right hand woman, seems hugely overblown compared to her real influence but she is a vital plot device.
There are three of these. His relationship with Hoffman (Winslett in yet another Oscar nominatable performance); his relationship with the mother of his daughter (and, by association, his daughter Lisa) and the three product launch performances (legendary though they are you never actually see them – The Macintosh, The Next Computer and the iMac).
Central to all of this is the underpinning and highly challenged relationship with his daughter Lisa whom we see grow from a wide eyed four year old to a somewhat embittered Freshman. Jobs comes out of this reasonably well as Danny Boyle positions his ex, Chrisann Brennan, as a needy, somewhat whingeing, gold-digger. It’s highly debatable as to whether this is an accurate reflection of her. But it gives Fassbender (as Jobs) the ammunition to riff off and gradually respect the needs of his daughter whom he reluctantly builds an affection for.
Steve Wosniak is played dead straight (and very well) by Seth Rogen and one of his stand up battles with Jobs, as he tries to get him to acknowledge the vital importance of the work of the engineers who build the business saving Apple II, is a pretty fundamental exposition of Jobs’ cantankerous, unforgiving, deeply focussed drive for perfection in the future; not the past. It’s electrifying.
This movie is low on action; instead we get two hours of fast-paced, intimate dialogue in typically brilliant Aaron Sorkin style that will surely reap for him a further Oscar.
What’s odd is that the movie picks quite a short (15 year) window in Jobs’ career (mostly its downside). I can’t help thinking the project overall might have better suited to an 8 hour TV serial broadening its scope to the full Monty of his life and career, in all of its ups and downs. But, no matter, Danny Boyle has shown that when he focusses on smaller detailed character pieces his output is at its best, and this, unquestionably, is a career high sitting alongside, Sunshine, The Beach and Shallow Grave in my opinion.
Once again how can I find words to describe the quality and range of Michael Fassbender’s prodigious output? Surely this will break his Oscars duck because despite some of the film’s weaknesses they are not down to him. A compelling and sympathetic performance that is entirely engaging.
I’ll leave the last word for Daniel Pemberton’s beautiful and understated soundtrack. It’s reminiscent in many places of Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose’s brilliant Social Network score.
A solid 8/10.