STEVE JOBS [London Film Festival 2015]

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If there’s one thing tech geeks really get a bloody hard-on for, it’s Steve Jobs and his shiny white Apple products. Danny Boyle’s film gets behind the marketing and the mask, and unravels the complicated character behind some of the most revolutionary hardware of the past three decades.

Unlike your usual array of Oscar-bait biopics, Steve Jobs takes the interesting approach of distilling Jobs’ story down to three key product launches; the Macintosh in 1984, the Next computer in 1988 after Jobs was ousted from Apple, and finally the homecoming launch of 1998 when Jobs revealed the iMac at the San Francisco Symphony Hall. The speeches themselves are left out of the film for obvious reasons. No one wants to see Michael Fassbender impersonating Jobs giving speeches when we can just see the real thing online.

So instead, the script by Aaron Sorkin takes us behind the scenes of each iconic product launch in the crucial final minutes before Jobs heads on stage. Here he has a series of real-time confrontations with the mother of his daughter (who he at first refuses to acknowledge is his daughter), his Apple computer co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) and a key member of the Macintosh development team, Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg).

If you can forget the fact that it is highly unlikely that Jobs was visited by these people at each of the separate product launches, the decision to structure the screenplay like this is a stroke of genius. Aaron Sorkin crafts a series of face-offs between Jobs and the people around him, most of whom have a grudging respect, admiration and even love for him, but at the same time find him unbearable. Fassbender plays him as an infuriatingly self-centred man; both patronising and condescending and with an irritating God-complex. He compares himself to God, to Julius Caesar, and to Bob Dylan; constantly seeking to change the world through marketing himself and his products as essential evolutionary steps towards the future.

Luckily, this (some might say) insufferable man is the swirling vortex that all things gravitate towards. The other characters around him bring warmth, raw emotion and righteous anger to proceedings and Sorkin’s script has them clash in a series of electric confrontations. The heart of the movie belongs to Kate Winslet; superb as Jobs’ long-suffering marketing executive and the only person who can really put up with him. The most explosive confrontations might be between Fassbender and Rogen or Fassbender and Daniels, but Winslet plays the conscience and does a fine job of balancing her character Joanna Hoffman’s frustration, hurt and respect for Jobs.

Meanwhile Danny Boyle keeps things pumping along with the Daniel Pemberton’s symphonic and electro soundtrack often building to huge crescendos, or sounding like we’ve entered the world of Tron. With Sorkin’s screenplay giving a constant countdown to Jobs’ next appearance on stage, it is always urgent; every encounter fast-paced and Boyle’s camera having to rush around to keep up as Jobs moves relentlessly.

Steve Jobs is an impressive feat; it might not fulfil tech geeks’ desires to see more of the machines, but it certainly makes the man behind Apple a fascinatingly flawed character who is tricky to love, but very easy to watch.

STEVE JOBS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DANNY BOYLE / SCREENPLAY: AARON SORKIN / STARRING: MICHAEL FASSBENDER, KATE WINSLET, SETH ROGEN, JEFF DANIELS / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 13TH

Expecting Rating: 8 out of 10

Actual Rating:
 


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