Genius. The word has been used to describe both Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs, and rightfully so. Danny Boyle’s electric yet restrained direction melds perfectly with Aaron Sorkin’s ambitious and brilliant three-act script to create an enthralling journey through the life and mind of Steve Jobs.
Sorkin’s script is phenomenal, it manages to fully place the audience inside Jobs’ head and find a way to paint the story of his life whilst only taking place in the moments before three of the most significant launches of Jobs’ career: the 1984 launch of the Apple Mackintosh, 1988 NeXT Computer launch and the 1998 iMac launch. The film only details the events immediately leading up to the launches, within an hour before the moment Jobs takes to the stage, yet the entire picture around Jobs is built up through the conversations and character interactions in such an intricate and clever way, you barely notice it. Nothing seems shoehorned in; it all appears to occur organically. Similarly, the characters’ arcs are clear yet subtle despite the audience only seeing them at three separate stages in their lives.
Boyle’s direction compliments the script perfectly, utilising the ‘walk and talk’ concept brilliantly, and keeping a thrilling pace. There is no lull in the film, no moment where this kinetic energy seems to let up. Even the few flashbacks that appear in the film are intercut into scenes, integrating them seamlessly with the action currently occurring. It is in these flashbacks, especially those detailing Jobs’ fall from Apple, that Boyle implements his signature Dutch Angles, adding to the sense of drama and urgency already created through the sharp intercutting between the two scenes. Boyle keeps his camera sharp and fast, yet favours longer tracking shots during intense, kinetic scenes, allowing the audience to focus more on the dialogue and characters as opposed to purely the visuals.
The cinematography itself is beautiful, really capturing the essence of each scene and adding to the changing atmospheres and tones of each act. One of the film’s most striking visual choices, is the decision to film each act with different equipment. The 1984 launch is shot on grainy 16mm film, the 1988 launch on 35mm and the 1998 launch on digital, giving a much slicker, high-definition image. These changes in projection may not only demonstrate the varying time periods of the launches, but Jobs’ changing position in his career, from the misjudged projections of the Macintosh to the arguably strategic failure of the NeXT computer and finally to the stratospheric success of the iMac. The changing medium helps to fully envelope the audience into the story and adds to the idea of changing times.
Each of the cast members is brilliant, so fully immersed in their parts that it is easy to forget you are watching a dramatization. Fassbender is terrific as Jobs, so much so that despite his visual differences to the recognisable Jobs, you see him as him regardless. He brings both the character and emotion, even in the silent close-ups as he communicates waves of emotion that bring you into the complex mind of Jobs. He supported by a very strong cast including Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels, both of whom particularly shine, with Winslet being completely submerged in her role. Actors, such as Seth Rogen, who may seem like a weak link among co-stars of this calibre, also bring their best to the part, creating a faultless ensemble with outstanding performances, none of which for the wrong reasons.
The film is a thrilling examination of one of the most influential men of our time, and spending a couple of hours inside the mind of Steve Jobs makes for enthralling, insightful and entertaining viewing.