One of the men about whom everybody has an opinion, for better or worse, was unquestionably Steve Jobs, a famous loved/hated entrepreneur in computer history, whose merits and flaws are depicted in this phenomenal 2015 movie.
Fortunately, instead of being yet another biography, director Danny Boyle focused an entire life in the crucial days of the launch of the three most iconic computers of his long career.
So we begin backstage behind the Macintosh unveiling in 1984, where Jobs stresses his chief programmer, Andy Hertzfeld because Apple’s new product fails to say “hello” as it does in the commercials.
Perennially walking behind him is faithful assistant Joanna Hoffman, a shield of sorts who filters social interactions between Jobs and the rest of the world, including his colleagues and his ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan.
He has always denied being the father of her daughter, Lisa, albeit naming one of Apple’s products with the same name and clearly feeling a distorted affection for the child.
We continue into 1988, with Jobs kicked out of Apple’s offices, as he once again roams the hallways behind the stalls of Davies Symphony Hall before the launch of the NeXT, arguably the biggest failure of his career.
In one of those corridors awaits John Sculley, Apple’s CEO, once a close friend and collaborator but later his main enemy against the Board of Directors.
Finally, it all ended with the unveiling of the iMac in 1998, with Jobs, stronger than ever, returning firmly in charge of Apple’s new line of computer products for the masses.
Once again awaiting him are new personal clashes with his daughter Lisa, now a teenager, and his great childhood friend Steve Wozniak, one of the greatest geniuses behind technological democratization; however, along with his team, banished from the new iMac era.
14 years squeezed into just three days
This 2015 theatrical movie in three acts explores the complex and contradictory nature of Steve Jobs, a man with inexhaustible charisma and visionary intentions regarding the computer world.
Danny Boyle focuses on the essential period between 1984 and 1998, starting with the controversial biography written by Walter Isaacson, who also worked on the screenplay with Aaron Sorkin.
A piece of writing that neither condemns nor absolves Jobs, highlighting his failures and impact on Apple’s policies, as well as his power to shape the myth of himself, manipulating the world of information and communication that becomes almost a metaphor for his outsized ego.
Jobs, a brilliant lonely child, torments and cajoles his co-workers, toward whom he always has an almost sociopathic attitude of admiration and contempt at the same time.
Despite his lack of skills as a technician or programmer, his influence for creating unique products, appealing in design, and ease of use through an almost cinematic and obsessive marketing strategy is undeniable.
A man who could do everything and nothing, it is always fair to ask: Who was Steve Jobs?
Boyle presents us with a leader who lives between lights and shadows, moving away from the typical biopic plot, enrapturing the audience with endless fast-paced dialogues in marvelous sequence plans that enhance the ambiguous nature of this great character who, like it or not, was able to carve his name in history and the collective imagination.
The strength of the dialogue rests on the splendid performances of a cast simply in a state of grace, carried up to the skies by Boyle’s virtuoso and clean direction that stages a “piece” of our times, without judging but remaining detached and letting the talents of his actors speak for themselves.
Biopic hits theaters featuring powerful acting
At the head of this formidable cast stands proud and headstrong Michael Fassbender, one of the best actors of this cinematic generation who perfectly captures the dreamy, tyrannical essence of this quirky character.
Almost throughout the movie, he is accompanied by the equally extraordinary Kate Winslet, another solidly talented actress who plays perhaps the only character who is really able to hold her own against Jobs, along with the excellent daughter character played, over the years, by Ripley Sobo and Makenzie Moss, arriving at the gorgeous, angry teenager Perla Haney-Jardine.
Of all the rest of the actors, the most impressive was Seth Rogen: usually an actor and director with comic overtones, in this case, delivering an extremely passionate performance as the brilliant Steve Wozniak, initially Jobs’ partner and friend, yet left behind after his unstoppable rise to success.
A change between friend and foe that is most pronounced for the character of the usually reliable Jeff Daniels, who here plays John Sculley, the CEO whom Jobs himself had brought to Apple and who paradoxically will be the cause for which he will be kicked out: only to return even more unstoppable when Sculley loses his job because of his failed business choices.
Less flashy but perhaps the most human and touching of all is Michael Stuhlbarg‘s character, the tireless Andy Hertzfeld, a brilliant programmer perpetually harassed by Jobs’ mood swings.
It is amusing how Jobs always confuses Andy Hertzfeld with Andy Cunningham, the faithful marketing and communications woman played by the fabulous Sarah Snook, another actress perhaps too often underestimated by big Hollywood productions.
All these faces form a mosaic of hysterical and funny personalities whose greatest strength lies in their inevitable human weaknesses, personal contrasts and conflicts that will never find resolution.