Steve Jobs (2015) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

STEVE JOBS

Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Aaron Sorkin (screenplay), Walter Isaacson (book)
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels

Steve Jobs (Fassbender) takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac. Going into this movie and having already reviewed 2013’s “Jobs” portrayed by Ashton Kutcher,  I promised myself that I wouldn’t compare both films. I also deliberately avoided checking both ratings of the movies as I didn’t want to be influenced in my judgement (although that’s what I do in every case anyway)

To me “Steve Jobs” is some of Fassbender’s best work and Director Danny Boyle’s as well. I felt this was a clever slant on what I assumed would be biographical and going into the personal life of Jobs. Don’t get me wrong we do get that though a series of situations involving those who where closest to him and not in the traditional day to day in the home of the man. Boyle’s style and decision making to centre the storyline around three major moments in his profession life and that of the digital revolution was a terrific decision. Fassbender’s investment in studying Job’s little quirks and ticks (feet washing in the toilet bowl) is appreciated and allows the audience to understand the uniqueness of him.

His complex relationship with his daughter Lisa (who he named one of his early systems after) adds the emotional anchor to the film and is used at the correct times without it overshadowing the other personal issues with Steve Wozniak, Joanna Hoffman, John Sculley, Andy Hertzfeld and the mother of his child Chrisann Brennan. I have to commend the casting  by Francine Maisler in particular with the three stages of Lisa played by Makenzie Moss (Lisa aged 5), Ripley Sobo (Lisa aged 9) and Perla Haney-Jardine (Lisa aged 19) who I assumed must have been related as the likeness of all three is uncanny.

Staying on the cast, I was particularly impressed by Kate Winslet’s Joanna Hoffman who was Jobs able and strong confident. Winslet’s role I presumed would be a low-key bit part turned out to be one of the best things in the movie thanks to her performance and delivery managing to be one of the few who could reach inside Steve Jobs head and stand up to him.

Jeff Daniels never fails to amaze me. Such a versatile actor and in this movie is the friend, the enemy and a much like father figure to Jobs playing John Sculley who helped push the Apple machine along in its earlier days. The scenes behind the stage at all three events are interesting and have their fair share of intensity. His physical appearance throughout the timeline is subtle but cleverly done to show his age. Another thing I have to commend Boyle on is the way he interlaced the flashback scenes that parallel in the current scenes. In particular the “firing” of Jobs from Apple is heartbreaking for both of them.

Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak you say? I have to admit that this role was the one I took great interest in. Although limited in his screen time I was afraid Rogen May ham it up a little in his performance as the legendary engineer. His performance was just right. His final scenes and confrontation with Jobs confirmed this and he manages to pull at the heartstrings with his performance and you really do feel bad for Wozniak by the end of the movie.

Another surprise was Michael Stuhlbarg’s Andy Hertzfeld. Just like Wozniak in this film he had key scenes in these events but wasn’t on screen that long. Long enough though for Stuhlbarg to leave an impression on his part and for the audience member to realise that although treated very badly by Jobs admired him and considered him a friend regardless of what they went through together. Hertzfeld is also portrayed as a genuine person with a caring side towards Lisa who he felt was missing a strong male influence in her life and inadvertently made Jobs realise the years he had lost with his daughter.

The cinematography in the movie is simple and uses an almost documentary style technique, although not as rough. The music and the soundtrack isn’t exactly memorable and it isn’t until the end credits we get to hear some Dylan. In summary this movie impressed me and in particular Fassbender’s dedication to the man. Just running in at over two hours, a minute isn’t wasted and if you are interested in learning more about the man then I would give this movie a go. Highly recommended.

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