mon 14/10/2019

DVD: Steve Jobs | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Steve Jobs

DVD: Steve Jobs

Fast-moving biopic of the original Apple genius

Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs conveys the Apple co-founder's steely charm

If you saw The Social Network, for which Aaron Sorkin wrote the script, you will recognise the type also on display here – a hugely driven, arrogant genius who is emotionally illiterate. In The Social Network it was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; in Steve Jobs, it’s the co-founder of Apple.

Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Sorkin from Walter Isaacson’s authorised biography, the film focuses on three tumultuous periods in Jobs's life: his private crisis before the Macintosh launch in 1984, the unveiling of his ill-fated NeXT computer in 1988, and the iMac launch in 1998, and seeks to decode the enigma of the man behind a brand that has shaped much of modern life.

The film, and Michael Fassbender's gripping characterisation, do not attempt to make Jobs appear a nice man. He could be foul to those who loved him – he denied paternity of a daughter for several years – and a beast to work with, as is revealed by Kate Winslet's marvellous turn as Joanna Hoffman, his long-suffering marketing executive who was always at his side. At one point she describes herself as his “work wife”, and she acts as something akin to a conscience for Jobs.

There's also a marvellously telling exchange between Jobs and his one-time business partner Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), Apple's technical guru. “Who are you? What do you do?” Wozniak asks Jobs, who was neither a designer, nor an engineer, nor even a coder. He was that special kind of genius – a man who knew how to seek out the very best in those fields, who would work towards his astonishingly forward-thinking vision. But, when it's his name and no one else's that is synonymous with Apple, it's understandable that others who contributed to its vast commercial success (many of them better educated or more intelligent) might have thought that unfair.

The story is told at breakneck speed and even though we know the ending, in Sorkin and Boyle's telling of it we want to savour every chapter. They are an interesting combo; Sorkin is famed for his word-heavy, fast-as-you like speech patterns, while Boyle does love to go for the big, look-at-me visuals. The effect here is a sometimes relentless onslaught for the viewer, but this kinetic energy creates a nervous suspense of its own.

Fassbender rips it up as Jobs – a mass (mess even) of repressed emotions and vaulting ambition, but overladen with a seductive charm and ready wit – while Winslet provides the emotional heft of the film. They both thoroughly deserved their Oscar nominations.

 

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