Since before most iPhone users cared or even knew about computers, Apple product launches have been one of the most reliable sources of drama in the technological world. In Steve Jobs director Danny Boyle pulls even technophobe viewers into a story that both exposes and exploits Jobs’s skill as a showman and manipulator of narrative.
Written by Aaron Sorkin, the script is poetically structured over three separate product launches in 1984, 1988 and 1997, and makes good use of the motif to move the plot along. While much fuss has been made in social networks and message boards about the impact this perspective has on the true facts, as a narrative device it works well – also thanks to Sorkin’s cynical, engaging and humour-littered style. Throughout the film there are nods to the wider Apple story, with prominent placement of the Walkman foreshadowing the cultural landmark of the iPod.
Adam Wozniak (Seth Rogan) and John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) appear in places or times that seem improbable to keen biographers, but serve as provocation to Jobs’s character. In the title role, Michael Fassbender is magnetic. His Jobs is rude, inconsiderate and uncompromising in both personal and professional relationships. Particularly galling is that he seems to only find his daughter Lisa interesting when she is engaging with technology, and it makes the viewer question how such a “poorly made” man can be so celebrated.
As marketing executive Joanna Hoffman, Kate Winslet is delightfully resilient and seems to be the only person who can put up with this infuriating but compelling man. Her only, minuscule fault is an accent that becomes more Polish the longer she lives in America. Ignoring this minor factor, it is her chemistry with Fassbender that is the key component of humanising Jobs and making the movie appeal to a wider audience than it might otherwise.
In real life Jobs was the curator of his own legacy, and in this film the viewer is pulled into the dramatic crescendo of a carefully crafted story. It is a story which might hang together a bit too neatly, but as the previously sparse soundtrack builds into a wall of The Maccabees’ Grew Up at Midnight and applause of the iMac launch crowd, it too leaves the viewer glad to have shared in this tale.
Steve Jobs is released nationwide on 13th November 2015.
Watch the trailer for Steve Jobs here: