With the release of Xtravision Xpress in our area (basically a home release vending machine), I can now return in some manner to reviewing DVD’s and Blu Rays. I would still prefer if the full store was back open, but I’ll take what I have at the moment. So, as my first use of the facility, I decided to check out the new “Steve Jobs” movie.
In terms of synopsis, there have been enough releases on the frontman to Apple for you to know what to expect. I guess the difference here however, is that this focusses on three primary moments in his lifetime. Those being the launch of the Mackintosh, the launch of the Next, and the launch of the iMac. So, we cover a space of under 15 years, taking a look behind the scenes of the major events at Jobs’s personal life and the man he really was.
And that man was very, very complicated. Don’t be walking in to this one expecting a light, uplifting tale of success. This is hard and brutal in applying the feels, from Steve outright rejecting the notion he has a daughter to his former lover’s face, to throwing out any notions of even remotely mentioning his former staff’s success with the Apple II. We see him as a genius – someone who can juggle a thousand requests at once while at the same time be on top of any situation. But he does this through the team around them, using them more like tools than work colleagues. And he has an unrelenting, furious, on-the-boil demand for things to get done, regardless of the hurt the requests may cause personally to others.
For a role like this, you need a real powerhouse to pull the audience in when they are squirming in their seats, and Michael Fassbender does that magnificently. He already had a great performance in 2015 with “MacBeth”, but I think this is even more so. The camera is constantly keeping him within frame and he rises to the challenge in a way that is kind of astonishing. It must have been a massively demanding role, but he keeps the boat pointing in the right direction. We get to see the character as this truly flawed, brilliant, and at times hideous mind, but one I couldn’t pull my eyes away from. Screen presence is what is on display here, and it is delivered in spades.
Kate Winslet delivers an almost equally brilliant performance as Jobs’s assistant Juanna Hoffman. Witnessing someone constantly shifting between standing up against his decisions, while at the same time making sure the public system reveals run on track is almost a story in its won right. You can tell she really cares for Steve on a professional and personal level, but also is at war with his darker side and chequered past. Their delivery when they are both on screen gives some of the most difficult, but best moments in the film.
In fact, the whole cast was very well chosen for their corresponding roles, with each really rising to what is placed before them. Seth Rogan as Steve Wozniak is a huge, huge secondary success I was not expecting at all. He has some of the most heated lines to deliver and you can totally side with where he is coming from and his issues. His scene with Jobs at the launch of the iMac nearly splintered my heart with how emotionally heated the argument became. He may have had some shaky career choices in the past but God damm, he is fucking fantastic.
The director Danny Boyle also shows he isn’t out of ideas yet, with a movie that should put his name back in the good books of fans and critics alike. There’s very little flash to the way it is all pieces together – a few moments of nice image inclusion into the scenes and that’s about it. The focus is right on the characters and their conversations, and his smooth work with the camera keeps you enthralled from start to end. Editing is very well balanced, the stage design feels like you are right on the stage of the big events, and the feel of it being a pice set in the 80’s and 90’s is minimal, but right on the money.
And you’ll be happy to hear that there are no emotionally-manipulative moments in here, things stay (what appear to be) honest. The movie doesn’t try to turn around and say “But he’s a nice guy after all” in that infuriating way so many creations like this seem to go. You are given small signs of him changing his viewpoints and opinions, but you are never in any doubt that he was pretty damm horrid too.
In fact, I had only one small complaint that happened at the very end. The lingering shot seems to impose the idea that things after that were better, when I think it didn’t need that forced moment. Maybe they didn’t want to anger Apple fans, but artificially giving in for a moment is not making it better. Then again, it was just a few seconds and for most people, they won’t be changed by it very much at all.
This version of “Steve Jobs” is an industrial press which twisted and squashed my heart until by the end, I was really effected by what I had scene. Rather than getting a story of “the man” and the inventions he made, we get a look at who he really was, the human side along with those around him. As far as Biopics go, this one was crafted to a devilishly sharp edge and amazing script. Ultimately it is the actors who make all of the elements fall into place and do their work, and Fassbender at the helm steers it to success. You’ll be a bit of a wreck after seeing this most likely, but you’ll really appreciate the film art at the same time.
Thanks for reading!