A short archive snippet aside, predicting with surprising accuracy it should be said, the future of the home computer, Steve Jobs parachutes us straight in at the business end of things.
Mid-conversation, back stage at the launch of the ‘revolutionary’ new Apple Macintosh computer, Jobs (played well by Michael Fassbender), is discussing and arguing the toss with whomever may be in the room at the time; very much setting the template for director Danny Boyle’s biopic of the late, influential Apple maestro.
It’s dialogue-heavy. Very heavy in fact.
This of course is not a bad thing per se. Major film releases could certainly benefit from a greater focus on dialogue, it’s true, but when does it all become too much?
Essentially, Steve Jobs is a sequence of conversations between the single-minded entrepreneur and those both integral and peripheral to his life. All too frequently these discussions degenerate into bitter arguments when Jobs’ ideas, vision or personal life are brought into question.
From Danny Boyle’s take on things, it would appear that Jobs was a man that relished a debate, the way one does when absolutely convinced of the correctness of one’s actions and motives. Jobs seemed to have no intention of swaying from his point of view. Some will argue that that’s very much why he was so successful.
On the receiving end of Jobs’ stubborn, fait accompli-esque mind set are, amongst others, his loyal head of marketing, Joanna Hoffman (played well by Kate Winslet, although how it took me until the end of the film to realise it was her, remains a mystery), the long time, long suffering brilliant programming mind behind Apple’s until then most successful product, the Apple II computer, Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), and Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), the mother of Jobs’ child whose financial struggles and subsequent histrionics are of constant irritation to the Apple chief who seems almost non-plussed by her plight.
Or perhaps he was just too focussed to notice?
Either way, it is clear that Jobs needed like-minded people around him. His powers of diplomacy with those that didn’t ‘get him’ were somewhat lacking.
It’s hard to make up one’s mind on this one. It’s certainly worthy of a further viewing, if only to fully ingest the true direction of the conversations.
The problem seems to be that a film which is unafraid to be dialogue focussed repeats the trick time and again. One discussion / argument follows another and then another and then another, diluting the impact of both their intensity and content. Significant swathes of the film seemed to somehow pass me by as I tried on a few occasions unsuccessfully to accurately recall what had just happened, and I’m not one to switch off, impatient for the ‘action scenes.’
Perhaps it was a lack of concentration on my part? One thing is for sure though, Steve Jobs is hard work. It offers no light respite (normally a good thing), but I feel that it suffers as a result.
Plaudits to Danny Boyle for a brave approach in putting together what appears at least to have been a labour of love; I’d guess that Jobs was someone that Boyle had great affection or at least admiration for? That much seems to be evident.
Certainly the Steve Jobs story, whilst subtle and a bit of a slow burner, is an incredibly clever one, full of cunning, little or no compromise and a sense of tactically mastery and one worthy of the big screen, no doubt.
It’s just a shame that to anyone other than absolute aficionados of Jobs’ work, it’s a film that will go down as heavy-going and ultimately a little unsatisfying.