Trailblazing pioneer, uncompromising executive, cunning businessman–the co-founder of Apple Inc. was a man of many labels. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin chronicles them all in his latest cinematic masterpiece, “Steve Jobs.”
The film is a loose adaptation of an authorized biography of the same name written by former CNN and Time executive Walter Isaacson in 2011. In a recent interview with the “Today Show,” Sorkin stressed the unique nature of his own project.
“Walter Isaacson is a tremendous journalist, but it’s his job to be objective,” he said. “It’s my job to be subjective…It is … the difference between a painting and a photograph.”
Though critics are also quick to point out the disparity between the two, one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Jobs was a man both exceedingly brilliant and unflinchingly cruel. Contributing to this juxtaposing impression is Alex Gibney’s documentary, “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine,” which was released prior to the film and features a more critical view of its late subject.
Unfortunately, I ended up watching Gibney’s documentary just before I was able to see Sorkin’s film. I was consequently somewhat cynical and ended up spending all of the movie just waiting for the fictive Jobs’ darker moments.
Although Sorkin does attempt to show us a more humanistic depiction of Jobs, the tech leader’s failings are on prominent display. The effect is a poignant and engaging and somewhat hard to believe at times – study of one of the greatest technological innovators of our time.
The film is split into three 45-minute acts that take place in 1984, 1988 and 1998. Each coincides with an iconic product launch – the Macintosh, the NeXT Computer and the iMac. Although it tends to gloss over factual particulars when it comes to the computers, “Steve Jobs” more than makes up for it with an engaging plot line and intriguing and timely visual effects.
Additionally, the film features a star-studded cast. Despite looking nothing like Jobs, Michael Fassbender shines in the title role, effectively capturing every contradictory nuance of the late CEO’s personality. Seth Rogen holds his own as Apple’s often overlooked and under-appreciated co-founder Steve Wozniak. Kate Winslet delivers powerfully as Mac team member and “work wife” Joanna Hoffman. Other notable cast and crew members include Jeff Daniels, Katherine Waterston, Sarah Snook and composer Daniel Pemberton – who provides the perfect soundtrack to Sorkin’s fast-paced tour de force.
In the end, my only real complaint is that Sorkin’s portrayal ends up being almost a little too optimistic.
It was difficult not to like Jobs throughout the entirety of the movie, even when he should have been somewhat unlikeable. Furthermore, the ending was far from realistic. Though I understood Sorkin’s need to honor Jobs’ memory with a more humanistic approach that lent itself to hope, I did wish he would have kept things at least somewhat believable.
Nevertheless, “Steve Jobs” is a pretty good movie when taken out of context and without any knowledge of its subject on the subject of Steve Jobs.