The Oscars Countdown: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, Flickr, Lynn Friedman

James Hill reviews the biopic of Apple’s CEO, co-founder and overall genius, Steve Jobs, played by Michael Fassbender, following the rise and fall in the making of this fascinating man.

A typical biopic of a famous figure tends to provide a chronological and fairly simple plot progression from birth to death. Whilst undeniably chronological, this Aaron Sorkin scripted and Danny Boyle directed tour de force is a barbed lash of walking and talking a la West Wing. A first look of a bespectacled Michael Fassbender might engender a sense of déjà vu – the more typical Ashton Kutcher biopic 0f 2014 conjured from the ether – however this is far from a normal biopic. In fact, the dialogue frequently performs an open biopsy on our senses, the harsh staccato delivery of Fassbender’s Machiavellian Jobs is an auditory clusterbomb, with expletives and technical computer terminology blending seamlessly. However, whilst this is a purely male performance (the measuring does not stop at the Mac computer), Kate Winslet provides the emotional yet well rounded foil to Fassbender’s poisonous tongue. Whilst maybe not an Oscar winning performance, there is a sense of catharsis and emotional engagement with a determined female role. She is not here to make sure the main character fulfils his destiny, she is here to do her job and do it well.

In fact, the dialogue frequently performs an open biopsy on our senses. The harsh staccato delivery of Fassbender’s Machiavellian Jobs is an auditory clusterbomb, with expletives and technical computer terminology blending seamlessly.

Moreover, this film succeeds in drawing away from the myth of Jobs as a visionary and express just how unlikeable this figure actually was. He refuses to acknowledge his own daughter and lambasts her mother with line after line of acidity. In a previous Sorkin scripted film we saw Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg told rather matter clearly “you may change the world but you are still going to be an asshole”, the same can be said for Jobs. We see echoes of The Social Network in this film, yet Boyle’s minimalistic shots and moving camera are more Thick of It than The Social Network. The attention is drawn to the details and Fassbender clearly relishes every line and utterance. This is not a representation of the character but an inhabitation of the role. It has divided the academy and many voters whom all like Fassbender but Dicaprio’s Hugh Glass will probably (finally) edge this one out.

Whilst Steve Jobs might not be everyone’s favourite man, there is an undeniable swagger and strength in the character.

Although Fassbender, alongside a strong Seth Rogen, gives this film that Oscar sheen, more sympathy and pathos exists in Dicaprio’s Glass, a revenge story with cinematographic aplomb will sit well with Academy voters. A best picture contender, this film might have better luck in those categories often ignored, such as Best Adapted screenplay. Whilst Steve Jobs might not be everyone’s favourite man, there is an undeniable swagger and strength in the character. This man knows he’s brilliant and does not care who knows it. The arrogance makes you want more, more Sorkin lines and more vicious verbal putdowns. Whilst this reviewer personally hopes for a best picture win for Brooklyn, this film will have some success. Overall, a well scripted, well-acted and well-crafted film which deserves the plaudits showered upon it.

Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels
Nominations: Best Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet)
Why You Should Watch It:
The script alone is so commanding and well written, if for no other reason, watch it for Sorkin’s work.
What It Was Missing:
There doesn’t seem to be too much missing from this one. Perhaps a more conventional biopic format would have sat well with some reviewers, but this doesn’t take anything away from the film itself.
The Worldly Rating: *****

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