STEVE JOBS directed by Danny Boyle (USA, 2015)
The remarkable life of Steve Jobs cannot possibly be condensed into 122 minutes without making significant compromises. You have to distort events to create a cinematic reality. The problem of Danny Boyle’s movie, however, is that the bounds of credibility are pushed too far.
Scripted by Aaron Sorkin from William Isaacson’s biography, it takes such monumental liberties with the facts that what we are left with is a crude approximation of a complex man rather than a detailed insight into what elevated him to greatness.
His relationship with daughter Lisa may have been significant in real life but it’s hard to believe that she had such a major influence on his working philosophy.
In one key scene, Lisa works alone to ‘paint’ a picture on the early Mac causing Jobs’s hard heart to melt. It’s a touching moment but it never actually happened. It only serves to make you wonder how many other details in the movie are made up. The prominence given to the father-daughter relationship is all the more bizarre since Jobs’s wife and three children don’t figure in the story at all.
The movie is a turkey but the acting is first rate. Michael Fassbender bears no physical rememblance to Jobs but still manages to convey his aura of brilliance.
The man’s genius is taken as a given but, even so, it is a far from flattering portrait. Jobs is presented as an inflexible, manipulative bully. These negative traits are only justified because the ends justify the means so spectacularly.
The drive to achieve perfection and the refusal to compromise are shown as pushing his working relationships to breaking point. Co-creator of Apple, Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) gets one of the best lines while demanding public recognition for his work on Apple II. “It’s not binary”, he says, “You can be decent and gifted at the same time”.
A serious flaw in the structure of the movie is that we only really get to see Jobs in the process of preparing for a number of Apple presentations. Tensions of these events are heightened when a series of last minute crises occur. Marketing manager Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslett) is constantly forced to remind Jobs that he is running late. The suspense factor is severely reduced because we know full well that the ever more rapturous responses will reach the point of religious fervor by the time we reach the launch of the game changing iMac in 1998.
Jobs achieved the holy grail of every business entreprenuer by getting masses of people to buy things they didn’t know they wanted. He orchestrated both the demand and the supply of the products but the benefits to the consumers were so obvious that they felt empowered rather than exploited. This fairy tale for the modern age has all the ingredients of great movie but Danny Boyle’s heavy handed and sentimentalized direction renders what should have been a compelling story tedious and repetitive.