As someone who has worked in computing for 30 years, I was greatly looking forward to Danny Boyle’s new ‘biopic’ (using the term fairly loosely) about Apple founder Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender). Whilst I can’t claim it was a bad film, I was ultimately slightly disappointed by the result.
The film zeroes in on some specific snapshots of Jobs’s career, all centred around his famously theatrical product launches. During the course of three acts we see the preparations leading up to his launch of the original Mackintosh, his Next educational ‘cube’ and the gloriously different iMac.
As these acts span 14 years, we see the ongoing battle between Jobs and the flaky mother of his daughter (Katherine Waterston). We also see the often despicable way in which he treats his staff, including disparaging his closest colleague and co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen). In fact the only person he shows much respect for – at least for a while – is his boss and CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels).
During these exchanges, it is difficult to find Jobs remotely likeable. He is portrayed – probably very accurately – as a man with fixated views, unable and unwilling to bend at all. In this capacity Fassbender turns in a predictably classy performance.
Trying to pour oil on continually troubled waters is Jobs’s PA Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), looking less like Kate Winslet than she has for a while. Winslet is the best thing in the film.
The script is by “West Wing” writer Aaron Sorkin, and it is extremely dense: I pity the poor couriers who had to deliver the screenplay to Fassbender and Winslet, and can only imagine the look on their faces when they realised they had to learn it all! And it is the script that is frustrating. I found the historical aspects of the roller-coaster ride of Jobs’s career, supported by some great inserts of historical snippets by Arthur C Clarke and Bill Gates, fascinating. But the continual refocusing on the relationship with the daughter (Lisa) I found less compelling. And some of the right-angles taken by the dialogue strain credibility: when Sculley suddenly branches off into deep psychological counselling with Jobs on his childhood, minutes before a major presentation, it just doesn’t ring true.
Above all, it was extremely frustrating that the story took you to the point in each act of an announcer saying “And now let’s welcome to the stage STEVE JOBS…” and then the action cut away to the next scene. You never got to see Fassbender let rip at channelling the famous Jobs charisma to his assembly of baying geek disciples.
While there are occasional snatches of Danny Boyle’s usual flair, it views as a fairly atypical Boyle film: just getting all the dialogue in leaves little time for much stylised delivery.
So in summary its a workmanlike film but, for me, unfortunately one of the disappointments of the film year to date.
Fad Rating: FFF.
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