Directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) the movie chronicles a series of milestones in the life of Steve Jobs. The script by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) is adapted from an authorised biography written by Walter Isaacon. It is cleverly and entertainingly set around the backstage drama of three significant product launches.
The first is the launch of the Apple Mac in 1984 which leads to Jobs being ousted from Apple. The second is the launch of the NeXT computer in 1988 which was ill-fated from the start. The final segment focusses on the return of Jobs to Apple and the launch of the iMac in 1998, which we all know went on to be a resounding success. At just over two hours the movie doesn’t feel long, which is always a good sign. The transition of the visual portrayal of Steve Jobs from long-haired visionary in the 80’s to his almost iconic round glasses and black polo neck of later years is seamless.
The movie has an all star line up with Michael Fassbender playing Steve Jobs, Kate Winslet as Joanne Hoffman, Seth Rogan as Steve Wozniak, Jeff Daniels as John Sculley and Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld.
Fassbender gives a striking and captivating portrayal of Steve Jobs. He captures perfectly the manic, emotionally stunted, controlling obsessive perfectionist that he was. Throughout the film we see examples of the various character traits, from his commanding from start to finish that Apple should be a closed system or his obsession of over the size and shape of the NeXT black cube.
On a more personal level we get to see the evolution of the relationship with his daughter Lisa who he refused to acknowledge for many years. Interestingly enough one of Apples early computers was called The Lisa which allegedly stood for Local Integrated System Architecture. Despite being a multi millionaire Jobs for a long time paid the meagre sum of $385 a month in child support for his daughter. Amidst the drama backstage at each of the launches we also get to see the relationship between father and daughter develop.
Apart from Fassbender’s performance, a nod needs to be given to Seth Rogan’s portrayal of the likable Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak. Throughout the movie we see his character beg to have the Apple II team recognised for their work, which Jobs obstinately refuses. Declaring at one point that Jobs, didn’t write code, solder circuit boards or physically build computers, he asks what exactly his contribution is. In his usual dismissive and self righteous manner Jobs declares “musician’s play their instruments, I play the orchestra”.
“I’m going to put songs in your pocket” Jobs says to his daughter at the end of the movie. A hint of the innovations that were to come at Apple under his reign. Perhaps we will see a follow up at some point documenting the post iMac phase of his life. For now I’m giving Steve Jobs 3.5 out of 5. The performances are strong from the entire cast with standouts from both Michael Fassbender and Set Rogan. Check out the trailer below, go see it and make up your own mind.