Starring-Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet
Scott’s Review #288
Reviewed November 25, 2015
Steve Jobs is a name that almost everyone has heard of. Most associate him with Apple products or at least know that he is some sort of technological genius who has influenced the modern world in some fashion- his name is household. The film Steve Jobs presents a slice of his life, mostly focusing on his professional leap to success, but also on his damaged personal life and his inability to stay close to people within his personal circle.
Michael Fassbender plays the title role. He looks nothing like the real Steve Jobs, but this fact did not bother me. Quite soon it is revealed that Steve Jobs is a competitive, cut-throat, and sometimes unkind man. He is driven, ambitious, and willing to do what it takes to succeed at business. He is also complex and as the film rolls along we witness the complexities of this man, arguably deemed a “genius”. But where he has flaws is in his personal life as the film makes abundantly clear.
Kate Winslet is excellent in the supporting role she plays. As Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’s loyal Marketing Executive, she stays in his corner through the years, enduring ups and downs, and yet their relationship never goes beyond the platonic. They are colleagues and both are absorbed in their creations. Her character is a bit under-explored as we never are exposed to much of her personal life. Winslet, in a rare “dowdy” role, makes the most of Joanna as she is the type of woman who throws herself into her work at the expense of a private life.
The film is primarily set during the three important software launches. and, predictably, all are filled with issues and stress. The bulk of the first act occurs in 1984, when Jobs and Hoffman struggle and fret during an Apple Macintosh launch in front of an auditorium filled with industry types eager to see the new technology. The entire scene is filled with tension as the new computer will not say “hello” as advertised and Jobs demands lead engineer, Andy Hertzfeld, fix it. The scene escalates in its intensity. We immediately bear witness to the fact that Steve Jobs is a shark. He is demanding and unlikable and the film is not afraid to stress that fact as the action continues.
We are next introduced to Jobs personal life. A beautiful young woman arrives at his office with a young girl. They are both on the brink of being destitute and thrown out of their home, yet Jobs refuses to help them and coldly calculates the probability that the young girl (Lisa) is biologically not his.
As the film chugs along Steve Jobs has a turbulent relationship with Lisa as the film spans the period of time from 1984-1998. The film is a character study of sorts and we learn the complexities of Jobs. Fassbender gives a nuanced performance and allows the audience to absorb these character traits and ultimately feel emotional sympathy for him.
I admired this character study that is Steve Jobs and feel that I know him quite a bit more, on a human level, than I once did. Perhaps the supporting characters might have been fleshed out a bit more, but in large part, Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of a real-life person makes this film a success.