When Aaron Sorkin is involved in a movie, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to have some quality dialogue. He wrote the screenplay for The Social Network, which — fact or fiction — was one of the most entertaining films of 2010. Now he’s tackling another major influence in the tech scene (Facebook is tech… kind of) with writing credits for Steve Jobs.
If you’ve seen The Social Network then you should already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Steve Jobs. It’s a dialogue-heavy, drama-filled ride through the life of the late Apple co-founder, Chairman and CEO. Steve Jobs was as passionate as he was influential in the tech community, and that aspect of his character is very much on display in the film.
Michael Fassbender takes on the iconic role of Steve Jobs, with Kate Winslet taking on the other leading role in the film, Apple Macintosh marketing guru, Joanna Hoffman. Almost every scene in the film showcases one or both of these thespians and they steal each and every scene they’re in. Fassbender may not physically look like Steve Jobs, but he embodies the character like no other actor has been able to do up to this point (sorry Ashton).
It was widely known that Joanna Hoffman was one of the few people at Apple who could stand up to Steve Jobs, and that aspect of their relationship is depicted throughout the film. While this is obviously a Steve Jobs movie, it almost feels as though you could’ve called it, “Joanna Hoffman” and you wouldn’t have to change much. That’s not a bad thing at all as Hoffman was present for some of the key points in Apple’s history, much like Jobs.
Steve Jobs is not a traditional film. It doesn’t really have a set beginning and end, and it’s certainly not what most would expect from a biographical film. It covers three significant product launches that Jobs took part in. That doesn’t mean it covers the events that took place leading up to the product launch, that literally means it covers the hour or two leading up to three very important keynotes in Jobs’ career.
The first keynote is the launch of the Apple Macintosh, followed by the launch of the NeXT computer platform, and finally the launch of the iMac. There’s a little bit of back story and some flashbacks here and there, but for the most part the film takes place at these three product launches. What ties these together (in addition to Jobs and Hoffman) is Jobs’ daughter, Lisa Brennan, played by Makenzie Moss (age 5), Ripley Sobo (age 9) and Perla Haney-Jardine (age 19).
Lisa Brennan is essentially the backbone of the film. Yes, Steve Jobs is important to a film about Steve Jobs, but it’s Lisa Brennan that gives the audience someone to connect to and a way to tell time. As Lisa ages and the interactions with her father evolve, the audience learns not only what the passage of time has done to the relationship, but how Jobs has started to evolve as a human and a father. She doesn’t have many lines or even much screen time, but she is an essential part of the film.
The other two main characters in the film are Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogan), co-founder of Apple, and John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), CEO of Apple throughout much of Jobs’ time with the company. Wozniak was Jobs’ best friend, which provides insight into just how passionate Jobs could be. Sometimes Jobs treats Wozniak like you would expect a friend to treat someone he’s known for years. Other times the two seem almost like mortal enemies. Watching this relationship fluctuate throughout the film is one of the main points of dramatic contention. Sculley has a similar bond in that he was a father figure to Jobs for many years. Watching that relationship break down is also one of the key points in the film.
Steve Jobs is a film that gives you a dramatic glimpse into the life of Steve Jobs at three very important moments in his career. It’s an entertaining film that has a basis in fact, but should still be considered mostly fiction. All three product launches did take place, and Jobs’ personality is fairly accurate from what some people close to him have stated, but there’s a good chance many of the conversations in the film did not actually happen within an hour of each product launch.
As long as you understand that this is a dramatic film created for entertainment purposes and not a documentary, you should be able to enjoy Steve Jobs. It’s an entertaining film that shows you the full range of human emotions through the various characters involved. It’s not quite a thrilling as The Social Network, but the two films are similar in many ways. If you have any connection to the Apple Macintosh or iMac, there will be added enjoyment, but even if you know nothing of Jobs or the tech he pioneered, this is an entertaining dramatization of his life.
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About Steve Jobs
Synopsis: Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter.
Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Aaron Sorkin (screenplay), Walter Isaacson (book)
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen
Runtime: 122 Minutes