The real Steve Jobs was a marketing genius, a branding visionary who for better or worse, reshaped the world we live in. He was also, kind of a dick. An asshole of epic proportions to say the least. Danny Boyle’s new riveting biopic, Steve Jobs, sheds light on the iconic Apple CEO’s infamous temperament, and is a dizzying, relentless, calculating piece of cinema…just like the real Steve Jobs himself.
Michael Fassbender is miraculous in the film’s titular role. Watching his uncanny, marathon performance is worth the price of admission alone. Anyone with functioning eyes can see that Fassbenber looks nothing like the late iPhone guru, but the master thespian uses every trick in his arsenal to all but become Steve Jobs on the big screen. Fassbender does most of the heavy lifting in the film, an entrancing performance that co-star Kate Winslet compares to Shakespeare:
“Every scene in this film was abnormally long for a movie. The film script itself was 182 pages, so for Michael Fassbender, that’s pretty much like Hamlet times two.”
and his firebrand portrayal is bolstered by the film’s brilliant supporting cast. Winslet plays Jobs’ workhorse marketing director and confidant, acting as the lone voice of reason that can pierce the eccentric Jobs’ “reality distortion field.” Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels also shine as formidable sparring partners for Fassbender’s always domineering Jobs. The film is broken into three acts, individual scenes really, taking place backstage behind three different product launches that helped mold Jobs’ career and ascent toward mythological status.
Director Danny Boyle does his best to reign in the unbridled energy of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s script, but ultimately loses control at times and the film, propelled by Fassbender’s frenzied performance, goes off the rails. Sorkin’s ultra sharp, rapid fire dialogue befits Apple’s demagogue and chief, but coupled with the story’s limited scope and Fassbender’s impassioned zeal, Steve Jobs strangely feels both mysterious and bludgeoning at the same time. We never see much of Steve Jobs’ world save for brief flashbacks, instead we’re left with thrice repeating battle scenes of Steve Jobs vs. The Universe. It’s exciting to watch the actors nail their respective diatribes and to see Boyle’s experimental approach to the standard “great man biopic” play out before our eyes. However, these same qualities that make Steve Jobs a dazzling display of modern cinema, are also what prevents the film from being truly great. Like Jobs’ own obsession to achieve greatness blinding him from being a decent human being, Steve Jobs the movie is a marvelous but flawed film determined to do things on it’s own terms, audience/user enjoyment be damned.
Expect big things from Steve Jobs this award season. Nominations for adapted screenplay, supporting actress and best actor should be in the bag. Fassbender is equal parts mesmerizing, and terrifying and delivers yet another career defining performance.