“Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.”
Steve Jobs (2015) Is Exhilarating & Restless: In one of the several most argumentative episodes between Wozniak and Steve Jobs, Wozniak calmly reverts to egoistic Jobs saying, “When people used to ask me what the difference between Steve and me is, I used to say that Steve is a big picture guy and I like Solid bench work. And now I say that you are an asshole.”
Like earlier Sorkin’s work, where ‘The Social Network’ was not about Facebook, ‘Moneyball’ was not about the Oakland Athletics, and Steve Jobs is not really about Jobs or Apple Products. Steve Jobs is not even remotely a biography in its true sense. Steve Jobs dwells into the acidic character of Jobs, where his personal & professional life’s changing graph has been captured in the backdrop of three significant events. He is callous and apathetic tech suave who doesn’t mind threatening Andy Hertzfeld of humiliating him publicly if Macintosh doesn’t say ‘hello’; he doesn’t accept his illegitimate daughter as his own blood even after the conclusive proof; he is too selfish to acknowledge any credits to his friends and colleagues; he is too arrogant to ignore circuit board designer Wozniak’s opinion.
It is quite ironic that the guy who made such flawless and revolutionary Apple Products is so self-absorbed and flawed in nature. If Steve were an Apple product, you would have never bought him or regretted buying him. The film looks at the dynamics of a man while connecting to each individual on moral and social dimensions, despite retaining the core characteristics that uniquely define an individual.
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Aaron Sorkin’s script works more like a stage play with three extended scenes, set backstage of three crucial technological launches- the Macintosh in 1984-elegant and classical design but a commercial failure that led to his exit; the NeXT computer in 1988; and the iMac in 1998, with Jobs back in control at Apple, poised to roll out the iMac – the computer that ushered in Apple’s market dominance and initiated the cult of Steve Jobs. Aaron Sorkin’s deft writing, bolstered with crisp dialogue arching humane nature, never tries to empathize or make the character of Jobs relatable.
The script’s language is quite lyrical, incorporating a ‘walk and talk’ exchange of dialogues in a rapid-fire mode that never cease to halt, which is perfectly imbibed with an overly rhapsodic expository monologue.
The master-stroke of Sorkin is that he elevates each act filled with a gamut of emotions, more inclining to restlessness & unpleasantness to such a tangible euphoric culmination of the product launch that you wish the scene had stayed for a few more minutes so you can steal a moment to get over such tensed act. But alas, Danny Boyle’s restless direction never slacks a moment to let you catch your breath. Danny Boyle never tries to experiment too much in the direction department, keeping it simple and letting Sorkin’s writing take control of the film throughout.
The characters are fleshed out adequately enough to make their presence felt but not enough to distract from the ongoing dramatic tension that mounts every second. Each character tries to put some sense into Jobs, who viciously disregards them. But Jobs only cares to consider the opinion of Apple marketing head Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) to a certain degree, affirming that he is not anti-social completely. The only redeeming factor for Jobs is his interaction with his illegitimate daughter, which renders an emotional arc.
The actors bring Sorkin’s highly stylized and biting words to vivid life, which resonates on a human level. Though Fassbender might look miscast in terms of the physicality of Steve Jobs, he combines incandescent aggression with cold calculation, egotistical bully, and control freak Orchestra maestro who knows exactly how to tune his instrument players – be it threatening or manipulating. Michael Fassbender becomes Steve Jobs. By the time credit rolls, it will be difficult to shrug off the dented image of anyone else playing Jobs’ character with such panache.