Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Steve Jobs (2015)

"I play the orchestra."

Five years after Aaron Sorkin scripted a biopic of Mark Zuckerberg he does the same for the late Steve Jobs, another scion of the Silicon Valley aristocracy, this time helmed by Danny Boyle, whose London Olympics opening ceremony has certainly not harmed his career. The result is gripping, full of quick-fire dialogue (that'll be Sorkin, then) and plenty of zingers and little nostalgic touches. Throughout it all is a portrait of a confident- nay, arrogant, bordering on unlikeable visionary who, while not an engineer or a programmer, is the conductor who cannot play an instrument but plays the orchestra superbly.

The film is structured around the preparation to three distinct big speeches in 1984, 1988 and 1988, all big product launches. It's a brave yet ultimately successful way of limiting the palette in order to produce a cohesive narrative. Michael Fassbender is spellbinding and the excellent Kate Winslet is barely recognisable; a leading Hollywood actress actually playing a role that isn't sexualised.

The emotional centre of the film is Jobs' relationship with his daughter Lisa, starting with his denial of paternity but ending with his actually delaying his speech- a big thing- for her sake. We also see his abrasive relationship with his underlings, but he inspires loyalty in spite of everything. In the end, his vision triumphs, although it's interesting that the film ends in 1997, before Jobs' biggest wave of successes.

I like the nod to the fact that you can't get inside any Apple device without special tools, the grainy picture, the nod to the iPad's origins in Jobs noticing the clinginess of Lisa's Walkman, but at its heart this is a masterful character study. It is an artfully constructed and fascinating little film.

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