The last review (and the actual finale) of the 59th London Film Festival that we will feature will be the Danny Boyle-directed and Aaron Sorkin-penned drama of Steve Jobs.
This is Danny Boyle’s third film to be selected to close the BFI London Film Festival which is a huge feat in itself.
Michael Fassbender plays the tech genius with English Rose Kate Winslet providing the supporting role as his PR guru Joanna Hoffman. A formidable pairing at the helm with Boyle and Sorkin alongside an incredible cast means surely an Oscar’s favourite…
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 epicentre.
Loosely based on Walter Isaacson’s authorised biography of Jobs, Sorkin has stated this is not a biopic but instead three acts. Each act shows Jobs acting erratically behind the scenes before the public launch of key products. The first being the Macintosh in 1984, then the 1988 NeXT (after being temporarily sacked from Apple) and lastly the iMac in 1998, after regaining control. Each section is filmed differently to reflect the times starting with 16mm, followed by 35mm and climaxing with digital – a nice touch.
Throughout the film, recurring characters are present alongside Jobs, including Kate Winslet’s comical head of marketing Joanna Hoffman, Seth Rogen’s computer engineer Steve Wozniak and Jeff Daniels’ calculating CEO John Sculley. In addition, Sorkin has added emotion through a touching sub-plot about Jobs’s dysfunctional relationship with his daughter Lisa and her loud mother. This is key to the narrative and audience, especially for those who do not wish to follow Apple like a cult figure as Sorkin gives his script another dimension.
Sorkin’s machine-gun lines are at their peak here (like The Social Network), every word spoken is phenomenal. There are so many one-liners; they’ll keep you amused for days. Boyle eases up on the flamboyant camera shots as he directs this feature like a theatre show. The rooms are lonely and compact so he needs to let the actors shine via Sorkin's words. Danny is very much the gel between the writer and actors - he really makes the best of a good script.
Kate Winslet contributes a fine performance as Steve’s “work-wife” Joanna Hoffman even if her Polish/American accent slips distractingly, while Seth Rogen provides two strong scenes with very little to do elsewhere. Fassbender is the delight here though. He delivers a confident, leading man performance that is very Oscar-friendly – a nomination is nailed on.
This film is one Boyle’s best in recent years, but he was always going to be the ‘Robin’ to Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Batman’ of a script. My only niggle is that whilst the script is impressive and dominating in the first two acts, with the exception of one auditorium scene between Jobs and Wozniak; the final act drops off slightly.
The narrative portrays that no matter who you are, you’re still human. For every bit of genius Jobs possessed, he also had a cowardly and bitter relationship with his daughter and her mother. However, the final scenes seemed really over the top when Boyle and Sorkin tried to change the viewers’ opinion of Steve regarding his daughter. It felt like it was his cleansing and Sorkin had to include something positive about Jobs.
Without doubt though, Sorkin and Fassbender are receiving Oscar nominations respectively; but I am unsure about the ‘Best Picture’ - it just falls short for me. Fassbender is the film’s saving grace and his praise is long-overdue.
Cineroom's Rating: 4 Stars
Steve Jobs is released worldwide in cinemas on 13th November 2015. Certificate 15.