Screenwriter – Aaron Sorkin
Starring – Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston
The beauty of Apple’s story and by extension of Steve Jobs, is that ol’ devil The American Dream. Boyle & co’s creation of Steve Jobs attempts to shine a spotlight on the ghost in the machine at the heart of Apple’s perceived success, the human hands of a superhuman task – revolutionising the world through technology.
The fear with high-profile biopics is that they’ll sink into pandering and glorification, exponentially so when the man of the hour has been pivotal in the latest stages in global modernity and wealth, and is the pure level of icon that Steve Jobs was. Luckily, Danny Boyle’s directing is sumptuous, constantly exhibited through the necessarily Apple-inspired silvery smooth set design and iconic minimalism. Meanwhile, Aaron Sorkin’s trademark whip-cracking dialogue simultaneously builds characters’ identities in those “walk-n-talk” conversations you’ll recognise from The West Wing. As it happens, character identity forged in the smelting pits of heightened tension is something Sorkin specialises in. Each apparent life or death conversation in a locked rooms or cavernous hallways pulls double time for the film, divorcing the man from the myths and marketing long enough to carve out its own niche in the lore of Apple, and of current culture. The strength of all thatgroundwork gives the audience a firm handle to hold on to in the midst of the whirlwind three key product launches (The Macintosh, the NeXT Cube, and the iMac) that make up the film’s three act structure. Built into that, we have concurrent flashbacks that add context to our characters, effortlessly building on and restructuring the real-world knowledge of the Steve Jobs story, gently forcing the audience to, in Jobs’ own words, think differently.
It’s remarkably zeitgeist-y by nature, but by being able to suspend disbelief when retelling the story of the most recognisable brands in the world, the film is able to address the traditionally challenging questions brought up by the drama of “geniuses”, of self-made men who have succeeded against all odds, but at what cost? What happens when the only route to success is apparently very much like the individualistic American Dream, where the route of achievement is through a vicious singularity of drive, of thinking new ideas into existence with sheer force of will, and necessarily distorting your personal reality to do so? What does that do to relationships with colleagues, friends, family, and most addressed in the film, children?
Like the first iMac computer, the nuts and bolts of a mammoth production and epic self-contained experience, are kept simple, visible and work seamlessly enough to avoid distracting from the topics at hand; the big question. The key figures surrounding and attempting to ground the Jobs character are excellently played by the supporting cast, and as a full experience, Steve Jobs was a downright joy, necessary viewing for the modern age.
Written by Peter deGraft-Johnson,