By Keeva Stratton
Henry Ford is feted for how his famed assembly line ushered in a new industrial age. Likewise, history will celebrate Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as visionaries who birthed and transformed the computing age.
That’s not to deny the genius of Alan Turing, or Steve Wozniak, and the many other brilliant engineering minds responsible for technological innovations. However, history’s narrative calls for charismatic and readily identifiable figureheads—and Steve Jobs has been canonised as the one who lead Apple into the new age.
In Steve Jobs the film (directed by Danny Boyle, based on the Walter Isaacson book which has been adapted for the screen by Aaron Sorkin), the imperfections of the man who was obsessed by perfection are revealed, in utterly fascinating fashion.
We are introduced to Jobs (Michael Fassbender) in 1984, shortly after the unveiling of the now infamous ‘1984’ Super Bowl commercial and just prior to the launch of the new Macintosh computer. Seemingly poised on the precipice of success, Jobs is publically humiliated when the Apple board removes their support for his expensive and inflexible machine.
His stubbornness—his strength and also his flaw—is on display, as well, when it comes to his daughter, Lisa. Despite a paternity test confirming he is her father, Jobs is ruthless (and public) in his denials of his parentage and in his callous treatment of both his child and her mother. It is largely through the endearing strength and warmth of his assistant, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), that we too wish to put up with this challenging personality.
Through Hoffman, the audience sees Jobs’ deeply disguised heart and is given a means to believe in him. Over the following 14 years, we ride along with Jobs as he stays focussed on achieving success. With his former company on the brink of collapse, he makes himself the solution; and when re-hired by Apple, he is able to finally deliver the design-focussed and simple user experience that ultimately heralds his roaring triumph.
Steve Jobs is a brilliant film about an equally brilliant man. While Jobs wasn’t a technical genius (though he has taken a lot of credit), he understood marketing and the customer in a way that forever changed computing. When most tech companies were presenting more complex and technically powerful, adaptive systems, he struck a chord with the common user, who craved simplicity, ease of use and style.
By making Apple synonymous with style, he took a company from the verge of collapse to a position as market leader. He will forever be an icon of our generation. He was, according to this film and many accounts, egotistical and ruthless. A hard person to like until after his success was assured. But, his legacy is undeniable.
Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan and Jeff Daniels are exceptional in this film. Their performances, combined with Sorkin’s writing prowess, deliver a story about striving, desire, success and failure, and the dual-sided nature of a single-minded focus, that stands out. Whether you’re interested in Apple’s story or not, you will be entertained and engaged with the human story delivered here.
Australian actress Sarah Snook also has a feature role, and she will no doubt figure more prominently in Hollywood from here.
The only thing surprising about Steve Jobs, is just how surprised Winslet was to be awarded the Golden Globe for her performance. It was outstanding, and Winslet is utterly deserving of the award in one of the most tightly contested categories for the season.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan, Jeff Daniels
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Release Date: Feb 4
Reviewer Rating: 4/5