Aaron Sorkin’s latest work has been described by one of its leads as more of play than a film. Kate Winslet portrays Johanna Hoffman, and pleasingly, despite wikipedia’s definition of her character as a ‘confidant’, is very much centre stage with Michael Fassbener’s Steve Jobs.
The film one is most likely to compare it to is Sorkin’s previous cinema outing, The Social Network. Both films are about people who believe that their interpretation of how technology can change the world happen to be people with no social skills and force the world to follow their dreams rather than let their dreams be defined by the limits of the world.
The play is strictly a three-act play, and was rehearsed as such according to Winslet. Although I don’t want to spoil the plot, its hard not to say much more. At the three product launches that encompass each act, Steve Jobs encounters the most iconic characters from his past, each highlighting a different aspect, or issue regarding Jobs’ personality. Apart from a few crowd shot cutaways, the film really strictly keeps Fassbender on-screen for its entirety. Each of his encounters with Seth Rogan as Steve Wozniak, Jeff Daniels as Josh Sculley, and Michael Stuhbarg as Andy Hertfeld are thoroughly engaging, and each bring questions to Jobs’ approach, personality, and even question the approach of the modern maniacal man that Jobs seems to represent in the film, beyond just himself. The orchestra conductor metaphors all sound like genuine Jobs dialogue, but no matter how much these normal humans make you side against him, you can’t help but find him interesting, as we did with Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg and Leonardo Dicrapio’s Jordan Belfort. Not fun people, but irritatingly interesting.
The film hangs on the most darkly portrayed relationship, between Jobs and the family he rejects, his daughter, Lisa (portrayed at three stages of her life by Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, and Makenzie Moss), and her mother, Chrisann Brennan, pleayed by Katherine Waterston. This should be the most important aspect of the film, and the other characters reference it in between their own conflicts with Steve, but it does feel tacted on in a way that it shouldn’t. Waterston steals the time on screen from Fassbender and Winslet wonderfully, but their relationship suffers from the three-act structure massively. The time we get is intense, but short.
However, that could be said of any of the relationships. Its a strong character piece, but Sorkin isn’t confidently telling a particular story here. The downfall and rise of Steve Jobs does appear to be a story arc, but a particularly key scene between Steve Jobs and John Sculley falls under its own weight with an intense shouting match, that, unlike this filmic play, wouldn’t have worked on stage for reasons you would see when you watch it. Its well played, but director Danny Boyle doesn’t due this particular part justice, and its one of the key moments.
For months, I have been making myself a much more regular cinema goer with my disgusting cineworld pass and my reborn addiction. Why has it taken me this long to find a film I review? I half-wrote reviews of Legend, Me & Earl and the Dying Girl, Inside Out, Trainwreck, The Man from UNCLE, Ant-Man, and Spectre, and yet Steve Jobs is the first film review / blog I finally publish on this wordpress site. Why?
The reason is simple.
Despite its flaws and uneven nature, this is the first film I have seen in a long time that I immeadiately considered seeing again. Its an intense two hours, and as with most Sorkin scripts, you need to re-adjust yourself ready for the speed at which the dialogue will be thrown at you, but you will be intensely rewarded. Much like the philosophy of Steve Jobs himself, Steve Jobs somewhat shows us that less is more.