Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender, is a film that took four years to make. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing) has been attached since the film’s announcement.
However, the film’s development includes two lead actor changes, one director swap, and a new studio in charge. When the dust finally settled, director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later) replaced David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club); additionally, Michael Fasbender (X-Men: First Class, 12 Years SA Slave), took the title role, which, on separate occasions, belonged to Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio. Whether either actor would have been great in the role is moot; Fassbender is outstanding as Steve Jobs. However, though Boyle’s direction is very good, it’s hard not to wonder if Fincher’s film would have been just a little bit better.
Steve Jobs features a unique and captivating take on the titular Apple founder/CEO. Sorkin’s script follows Jobs and the people in his life, as they prepare for—and discuss the implications of—three major product announcements; the Macintosh 128K in ’84, the NeXT computer in ’88, and the iMac in ’98. This description may have made the film sound too technical be interesting or entertaining—but really; Serkin could care less about the computers themselves. Rather, the film’s focus is on Jobs, and his personal relationships with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogan), his former boss John Scully
(Jeff Daniels), his personal assistant, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) and finally his daughter Lisa (Perla Hanney-Jardine). Sorkin’s amazing script is the driving force of the film. From the opening scene, the characters in Steve Jobs are dynamic, complex, and full of great one-liners. Fassbender’s Jobs is insensitive and narcissistic; but with enough charm, wit and confidence to keep him likeable and fun to watch.
The film’s nonlinear structure puts pressure on the actors to keep the audience invested, and each of the leads is more than up to the task. Fassbender in particular is outstanding, displaying Jobs’ cold, business-like demeanor, but with just a touch of emotional vulnerability. There is a clear recognition among each of the actors—including Fassbender—that time has passed between announcements and their attitudes have changed slightly. While most of that appearance is conveyed via makeup and costuming, the actors’ subtle performance changes should not be overlooked. The primary reason to see this film is to watch four (or five) incredible performances.
In an award season already full of great acting displays, the leads of Steve Jobs each give Oscar-worthy performances. Just a collection of great scenes. Danny Boyle does an excellent job of directing of those scenes individually. However, there wasn’t a great sense of cohesion among those scenes; the movie felt jumbled at times. The film also dragged, especially in the middle. The tension present in the script just wasn’t always there on the screen. Each of those aspects of the film are the responsibility of the director, not the actors or writer. Steve Jobs is impeccably written and expertly acted. Those two elements alone are enough to highly recommend this film. That being said, David Fincher’s unique directing style is definitely missed.
Small gripes with the film’s direction notwithstanding, Steve Jobs is great film that deserves to be seen. It’s a great character study, and an acting tour-de-force from the entire cast. It’s also fun and entertaining when it wants to be (which is fairly often). If you’re looking for a smart drama with Oscar-caliber performances this awards season, Steve Jobs certainly delivers.