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Steve Jobs Review: Fassbender Plays God And Sorkin Is God - iLove It

You'll think different about Apple after this.

Rating: ˜…˜…˜…˜… iLove Aaron Sorkin's script for Steve Jobs. iLove Michael Fassbender's performance as the messiah of Apple. iDon't mind that it's mostly fictitious because it simultaneously doesn't matter and is kinda the point. iFind Danny Boyle's direction solid, if not perfect. iCan't wait to see it again. That's my streamlined, closed system review of Steve Jobs. It's a stylised, simply presented, brand-managed, user-friendly assessment of the Boyle-Sorkin-Fassbender team-up that would no doubt make its subject (or at least the movie version of him) smile in self-involved glee. But, unlike the Macintosh, which its creator insisted would be an isolated computer family, Steve Jobs, neither the film nor the person, doesn't exist in his own dictated world. To get to the real heart of the film we need to do something Jobs repeatedly failed to do; step out of what's on screen and take a look at what's going on around him.
The big contextual element, looming over the film like Microsoft's share of the computer market circa 1998, is that there is a major discrepancy between the character we see here and the real man who presented the iconic tech unveilings the film is set around (the Macintosh in 1984, the Next on 1988 and the iMac in 1998). There's been endless copy about people denouncing the film for how it presents Jobs, but (aside from the potential legacy-marring) I don't think it's really a potent issue (or at least not a negative one). T. E. Lawrence (he of Arabia) likewise had perception of him altered to fit a movie and we all proclaim that a masterpiece (mainly because it is) regardless of the alterations to historical facts. Surely the same should be true here? It seems that with all the Wikipedia-entry biopics and science-faction epics we're getting at the moment we've forgot the joy of telling a great story, settling instead for films that simply relay a good one. You could have a film looking at a fictitious tech pioneer and his ego, but as with The Social Network (and, on the flipside, with Citizen Kane and William Randolph Hearst) before it, there'd be no question who the film was based on, making it rather pointless. So yes, there's liberties with the truth, but to get hung up on that misses the point; Steve Jobs is a great movie. Not a perfect one, but one of the most unexpecedtly thrilling of the year.
Central to this is Aaron Sorkin's script. Obviously his dialogue crackles with intensity because that's his modus operandi, but here he's taken a step further into almost self-aware territory. On top of the usual cutting barbs (the iMac looks like Jane Jetsons' oven) and movie-redefining callbacks (the final fifteen minutes pretty much realigns the first half, begging a rewatch), he finds time for prophetic Apple jokes and mocking of both his wider ourve and his story choices here. At one point Jobs questions why everyone he knows chooses to engage in life-changing conversations moments before his key launches, handing the critics easy lines while at the same time destroying any criticisms of convenience for the sake of story. In any other film with any other subject, this could all become too much, here it's all part of the bigger picture. This isn't just about Steve Jobs, but a Steve Jobs who compares himself to God with such intent you'll begin to think he actually believes it. In fact, it's that side of things that makes the skewed version of reality stop being a problem and turns it into an asset - the line between film and man blurred, Jobs himself seeing an false truth just as the audience is.
The comparisons to The Social Network are palpable, even without David Fincher, who was originally attached to direct, at the helm. Both deal with tech innovators who brought the world together while pushing others away and much has been made of the accuracy issue. The big difference is in where the ownership of the movie lies; The Social Network was a David Fincher film written by Aaron Sorkin (and I vehemently disagree with anyone who says otherwise), but Steve Jobs is a Sorkin film with Danny Boyle jobbing as director. Which is, quite frankly, shocking - Boyle is usually a filmmaker with an infective, ever-present personality, but that's oddly lacking here (aside from some zanier moments where video plays on a wall for some reason that doesn't quite fit). I'd be willing to bet the rushed production meant he was forced to rein it in, although everyone else seems to have weathered the constant changes (it feels like everyone in Hollywood was involved at some point). Who really impresses in that regard is Michael Fassbender. That he's good isn't really surprising, but that he turns in one of his best performances after taking up the role at the last minute kinda is. He takes everything in Sorkin's script and through careful mannerisms and restrained aloofness elevates it even higher, giving his own turn in Macbeth a run for its money (an Oscar nom is surely a lock). Steve Jobs is a brilliant movie, its flaws not hurting it whatsoever. Actually, that it's imperfect makes for something more impactful than it being a straight masterpiece; it's all about the strive for personal perfection and the film missing out on full greatness may just be the best show of it.
Steve Jobs is in US cinemas now and UK cinemas from 6th November.
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Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.