The first thing about this film that grabs your attention is its sheer pace. Its frighteningly quick, blunt and precise from one scene to another as if Inaritu was brought in as a special consultant, no offence to Boyle. The screenplay, aptly written by Walter Isaacson the celebrated biographer himself, lends the movie a certain personality not very different from Jobs himself – exceedingly intelligent but unabashedly unpredictable at times.
When we first heard of this movie, we did a full eye-roll aimed at dismissing a subject that has been too often treated through more than one film (Pirates of Silicon Valley and Jobs) and a several independent documentaries one of which (Steve Jobs : The Man in the machine) was astoundingly balanced and showed us varied perspectives through people who had actually worked with the man. What new did film-makers expect to scratch out of the bottom of this seemingly empty vessel ? – we thought. As it turns out, Boyle captured the essence that had been elusive in almost all the previous narratives. The biopics we had seen earlier saw Jobs as the iCon (reference to a biography by Jeff Young and Bill Simon) that he was and the analysis of his life and achievements was skewed towards this intrinsic belief that he was a God of Product Creation.
Steve Jobs brings the much needed human angle to the audience. There has been a significant refocussing of the screenplay from the products he built to his relationships with his wife and daughter, his partner in crime Woz (Steve Wozniak), his Marketing Head and his CEO John Sculley. The narrative proceeds in a series of Product Launches starting from the Mac which was the successor of the highly successful Apple II and in the backdrop of the controversies surrounding Lisa one of which said that it was named after his daughter. The rigid denial of the fact that Lisa was indeed his daughter and his staunch refusal to pay sufficient child support even though he was valued as a multi-millionaire, starkly reflect his flawed reaction towards his responsibilities.
It was also interesting to notice his relationship with his Marketing Head Joanna (brilliantly played by Kate Winslet), who has been a character ignored by all the other biographers until this point. Her enduring patience in the face of his impulsive decisions truly portray the proverbial woman behind the successful man. The film is interspersed with his constant conflict of interest of the CEO John Sculley (played by Jeff Daniels) who had been snatched away from Pepsi by Jobs himself to head Apple, by the famous – “Do you want to sell sugar-water all your life John?” argument. The divide that Jobs created between the Apple II and the Mac teams, his exit from Apple through a Board and his subsequent creation of NEXT has been fluidly recounted, simultaneously showing his rising discord with Woz (played by Seth Rogen) who headed the Apple II team and was never acknowledged for his contributions.
This film stands out from its counterparts by the fact that it emphasises on the elements that made Jobs. For the first time, we were watching “people” taking the centre-stage than his products, which were there just as references to the time-lines of the story. For the first time, we saw the preparation and tension that gripped Jobs before he confidently rode up on the stage and blew the investors away. Here was a man who was not infallible. Here was a man who had left behind thousands of mistakes and was also unapologetic about them. Here was a man who grew with the people around him, who grew with his daughter and who grew to understand his misgivings.
Fassbender, as Jobs, gives a convincing performance considering the immense emotional attachment that the character has with the fans and in popular culture. To be honest, we were skeptical imagining Fassbender as Jobs owing to his recent Magneto avatar but as the film progressed, he moulded us into seeing the personality that he wanted us to see so much so that we could feel the charisma and presence of the man who has inspired millions.
Although we know him mostly through Slumdog Millionaire but Boyle has made amazing films on wide-ranging topics. After his intensely real biopic 127 hours about adventure enthusiast, Aaron Ralston, we couldn’t have expected anything less. Definitely one of our favourite directors and on our not-to-be-missed list.
gobblpoint: Since the fans would not need reminding, here’s one for the other group. If you have been living under a rock and somehow missed the story of one the most defining men of our time, watch this for the love of humanity. Keeping aside even that fact that this is about Jobs, this is a very well-written biopic. Watch it for an inspiring story if not as an Apple fanboy.
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