There are two things I was looking forward to in regards to the highly-anticipated premiere of 'Steve Jobs': Aaron Sorkin’s writing and Michael Fassbender in a turtleneck! There are other things people might be looking forward to: a chance to learn more about the infamous man behind some of our favorite pieces of technology, and a new piece of work from Danny Boyle (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire). For this film chick, however, it was all about Sorkin’s quick dialogue and a scantily-clad Michael Fassbender — and on those two fronts, the film did not disappoint.
Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. is the 21st century version of a mythological hero. Passionate, driven and gifted with an unrivaled talent for the art and business of technology, he has both devoted followers and enemies. He goes to battle on the stage of multiple product launches and his fighting skills are a terrifying mix of bravado and finesse. Like any hero though, Steve is plagued by a dark past: he was given up for adoption by his birth parents and this abandonment has gone on to affect his business relationships and his acceptance of his daughter. "Steve Jobs", as a film, follows this hero behind-the-scenes as he creates a technological revolution while conquering his own personal demons.
Taking on a subject matter for a man of Jobs’ stature is a tough call. To create a biography via film, you go up against what people think they already know about him and then you have to carefully select what you’re going to show and what parts of the story you are going to leave out — essentially creating a new reality. For this take on Steve, director Danny Boyle decides to focus on two major areas of Steve’s life: the early days of Apple (the film only covers Steve’s life up until the 1998 reveal of the iMac) and his troubled relationship with his daughter, Lisa. This choice makes sense because it gives you the ability to see both the genius and the man behind it, but ultimately, it’s an unsatisfying choice. The film becomes stuck between the two, leading to repetition and predictability.
The best, and most interesting choice made for this film is that it plays out in practically the same setting for the entirety of the film. Product launches were Steve’s bread and butter and because of this the film’s story follows Steve’s life through three product launches. For each of the launches we meet up with Steve the day of, at the venue, and then we follow him as he prepares for the show. It’s like watching a behind-the-scenes documentary on your favorite theater production. One the most poignant scenes in the film takes place in the orchestra pit of one of the theaters. Steve and his business partner/friend Steve Wozniack (Seth Rogen) are arguing about comments Wozniack has made to the press about Steve. The two friends confront each other among the empty orchestra set-up and the metaphor of Steve Jobs’ becomes so clear, the ultimate performer and the performance. The theatrical nature and the peek behind the curtain aesthetics of the film help turn the story and its characters into an enjoyable performance.
Ultimately, "Steve Jobs" falls short. It’s too quick of a snapshot of a brilliant man’s life and you’ll mostly likely leave the theater wishing they had shown you a little bit more. What the film does offer is a fantastic set of individual performances and a great study on how to use location to a story’s advantage.