I’ll just come out and say it. Steve Jobs is a masterpiece, and one of the greatest American-made biopics ever made, period. It’s structured in such a unique way that it feels unjust to call this film a biopic. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin for the past few years has stated that his film would be the furthest thing away from being your run of the mill biopic. It’s probably why actors such as Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio and so on got cold feet on taking on such an ambitious project, and same for Sony. This film was originally set up at Sony, but due to the massive studio-wide hack last fall, the studio took a lot of damage control, and lost the project to Universal in the process. David Fincher was also set to direct the film, which would be the first time Sorkin and Fincher would’ve teamed up since their other masterpiece, The Social Network. Danny Boyle, a masterful and respected director in his own right, came in to direct, and we now have Steve Jobs. Here’s the review.
What sets this film apart from everybody else is that there are only three scenes in the whole film. There are some brief flashbacks sprinkled in the film here and there, but for the most part, the film plays like a, well, play, with the first scene (or act) has Jobs and his Apple team preparing to launch the Macintosh 128K in 1984, the launching of NeXT, the company Jobs founded in retaliation to be ousted in 1988 by his own company, and then the launching of the iMac in 1998. Only three scenes, but feels electric due to the dialogue by Sorkin and the performances by everybody, with Michael Fassbender playing the titular tech titan, Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, a member of Jobs’ team, Jeff Daniels as John Scully, the former CEO of Apple, and Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple with Jobs.
For moviegoers who love dialogue-driven movies, this is just the movie for you (I’m one of those people). Even from the very beginning of the film, the dialogue feels so rapid and exciting and intense that each scene feels like a breeze, making the film never feel as if its being dragged along at any time. Each frame feels riveting, and pulse pounding, that when the films all said and done, you feel like you’ve been in the theater for a short amount of time instead of feeling the two-hour running time. It’s also a joy to see Sorkin writing movies again, after three seasons of The Newsroom, which was a solid show, but nowhere in the same ballpark as his more recent screenwriting efforts. This film again proves that Sorkin is the greatest screenwriter of our time, and it would be a travesty if Sorkin didn’t get the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in February.
One of the things that Sorkin mentioned was that Steve Jobs is in every scene of this film, and would be a massive undertaking for any actor to perform. Michael Fassbender decided he was up for the challenge, and what we see on-screen is one of the finest film performances of this or any other year. I say this because Michael Fassbender looks nothing like Steve Jobs, and the filmmakers don’t try to hide that by covering his face in makeup and prosthetics. They let Fassbender go natural, and you get lost in his performance as the arrogant, narcissistic, but brilliant late-Apple co-founder. I’d be surprised if I see a better performance by a lead actor in the final months of 2015, because the young Fassbender could possibly have the Oscar already in his bag, and I’d be fully supportive of him receiving that. Fassbender has quickly become one of the great actors of our time, and I hope he continues to do challenging character work among all of the studio tentpoles he’s found himself in (X-Men, Alien, Assassins Creed, etc).
Kate Winslet will no doubt get some awards consideration for her performance in the film, who serves to show Jobs’ emotional and poignant side, especially with Jobs’ relationship with his daughter Lisa, who he refused to call his own for years. Jeff Daniels also gives one of his best performances as Scully, with Jobs and Scully sharing some explosive and magnificent scenes together. Seth Rogen is also very good as Wozniak, even if his screentime isn’t as much as the other supporting players. What I admire is that Sorkin doesn’t try to make Jobs sympathetic or a good guy, but the relationship he has with Lisa, especially at the very end of the film, is a fitting conclusion to this film. The film isn’t as scathing as Alex Gibney’s doc on Steve Jobs (which you can read my review from SXSW here), but it’s not supposed to be. This isn’t real life, it’s a movie, and it works beautifully in every way imaginable. Danny Boyle shoots the film is such a unique way that feels special and worth mentioning, because he doesn’t try to do anything too in your face or overly stylish. The film is like a three act play, and respects that, but makes his camera work, which feels like it’s always moving, all the more exciting.
I honestly don’t have any problems with the film. Steve Jobs is my favorite film of 2015, and highly doubt it’ll be topped (even if we do have a Bond and a Star Wars film coming out in the next couple of months). No matter how you feel about the man himself, or Apple as a brand, all that will be checked at the door once the film starts, due to enthralling dialogue, brilliant acting from everybody involved, and flawless direction from Danny Boyle. I can’t say Steve Jobs is my favorite film of the decade like Sorkin’s last screenplay, The Social Network, is, but I can proudly say that Steve Jobs comes damn close. Please go see this movie.