Third time’s the charm for Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs is an american icon. Ever since his death there have been many attempts to tell his story on the big screen, and this is the first to do so successfully. A smart and witty script, tight directing, and fantastic performances all help make Steve Jobs become a wildly entertaining drama that gives an accurate portrayal of the computer innovator.
While Ashton Kutcher may have looked like Jobs, Michael Fassbender absolutely embodied Jobs in his performance. Honestly at certain points I forgot I was watching Michael Fassbender just due to how well he slipped into the skin of Steve Jobs. Fassbender already has a large portfolio of great performances, but he may have just given his best as Jobs. Fassbender’s performance is a nuanced one, one that helps cast Jobs as sympathetic and hateable, charming and abrasive, truly expressing the growth he goes through over the course of the film.
Behind every great performance is an equally great script, and that rings true here. Steve Jobs was penned by Aaron Sorkin, a writer known for his witty and wordy films.That holds true with Steve Jobs. The film is filled with various “sorkinisms” and overall just feels like a classic Sorkin script, and it really works for this film. This is very well written film that portrays Jobs on screen as a fully realized, three dimensional character. The subtle character shifts that occur between each act can be in large part attributed to the strong script, as it helps to create characters instead of caricatures of all the tech moguls in this film.
What really brings Sorkin’s script to life however is the fantastic directing effort from Danny Boyle. Originally, the film was to be helmed by director David Fincher, and while I absolutely love Fincher, I can’t see how anyone could have done a better job with this film than Boyle. The way Boyle is able to direct the scenes in this film elevate them in a way that could not have been done by anyone else. The film showcases Boyle’s strength at directing drama as he is able to craft an argument into something as tense and nerve wracking as an action scene.
Intercut throughout the film are various flashbacks that help expand on the relationships between Jobs and his various colleagues, as well as expand the drama that happens in present time of the film. What is so brilliant about this technique that is reused throughout the film is the ability to make the flashbacks work within the context of the present day. An argument can be showcased throughout different time periods all within the same scene and helps give a lot of depth to each of the conflicts within the film.
The music in this film is fantastic, its subtle and subdued when it needs to be, and in your face and bombastic when the story calls for it. It really helps emphasize a lot of the dramatic moments, without overtaking the action. The score was exactly what it needed to be, and I could actually see myself listening to some pieces of music outside of the film, I loved it that much.
Boyle makes a lot of unique and interesting directing choices within Steve Jobs. The film itself is structured like a three act play, with each act covering a different point in Steve Job’s life an focuses on the subtle differences between each time period. Each act comes across as being a bit repetitive, where they each follow the same structure and hit similar emotional beats. But what helps this film shine is the subtle differences and changes between the various characters in the film, most notably in Jobs himself.
Boyle helps personify these changes with the camera itself. The cinematography in this film is something that has really been overlooked. The way Boyle utilizes the camera in the film helps craft some ingenious visual storytelling. The first act of the film is shot on 16mm film, creating a fairly grainy picture that doesn’t look very clear, which (without going into spoilers) acts as a metaphor for the state of Apple and Jobs for the entire first act of the film. Eventually the film transfer to 35mm film within the second act, becoming a little more clear and refined, and finally in the third act it switches to a full blown crystal clear digital camera. The camera itself helps lend to the story of Steve Jobs and I thought it was a brilliant and subtle directorial choice by Boyle.
While Steve Jobs is repetitive at times due to the nature and structure of the story, the writing, directing, and fantastic performances all help elevate what could be a generic biographical drama (*cough Kutcher’s Jobs cough*) into a great dramatic piece that gives an in depth look into who Jobs was as a person, even if he was kind of an asshole. But damn was he charming.