The new Danny Boyle film is set behind the scenes of the 3 key product launches for Jobs through his career. The first, in 1984, as he prepared to publicly launch the Macintosh computer. The second in 1988, prior to the launch of the NeXT computer by his new company following his sacking from Apple. The third being the 1998 launch of the iMac G3 following his return to Apple, as CEO. Each of these combine to be parts of the 3 act structure to the film.
In contrast to the 2013 Ashton Kutcher film that retells the whole story of Jobs and what he achieved, the Aaron Sorkin penned film presents a dramatised version of pre-launch events behind the scenes, using interactions with a number of key characters in Jobs life to attempt to draw out who he was and what motivated him.
The characters that follow Jobs through this timeline each help tease out different aspects of Jobs and his relationships; the main ones being…
Joanna Hoffman, played by Kate Winslet, an Apple Marketing executive, operates throughout the film as a form of moral compass for Jobs.
Seth Rogen, plays Steve Wozniak (co founder of Apple) who as Jobs’ original partner appears the closest thing that he had to a brother, and someone desperate to to balance success in their chosen industry with doing the right thing by their people. A different balance to Jobs whom was so singularly focussed on product perfection.
Jeff Daniels returns to work with Sorkin (after the Newsroom TV show) playing the CEO of Apple John Sculley, a business mentor / father figure to Jobs, with their discussions referencing Jobs’ relationship with his actual, and adopted parents.
And of course the relationship that Jobs had with his daughter, Lisa, and her mother.
The movie feels like the film of a play at time with its relatively small cast, and the limited number of settings being in dressing rooms and backstage locations.
The film features some strong performances, and whilst they may not win academy awards, the nominations of both Winslet and Fassbender were thoroughly deserved. Whilst Kutcher attempted to impersonate, resemble and mimic Jobs, Fassbender and Boyle have clearly taken a position where he is familiar enough but not making his appearance too much of the focus.
Through its construction, the film doesn’t pull any punches, certainly as it aims to show a character arc, the first act especially laying our his cold obsession with his products and the pressure that led him to put on his team and the distance he operated with to his daughter.
As a very big fan of Sorkin’s body of work, it’s not his best, but its a clever approach and an interesting enough take on a man of whose achievements we know so much (I’m writing this on one of them) and yet of whose personality we know so little.