“Musicians play the instruments. I play the orchestra.” muses Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) as he begins an argument with friend and co-worker Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) regarding Jobs’ supposed genius and lack of knowledge about computers.
This quote can also be applied to the film itself. The cast and crew play the instruments in this finely tuned creation, but it is the trio of Director Danny Boyle, Michael Fassbender and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin that conduct this powerhouse orchestra.
The film is set across a 14-year timeline, spanning from 1984 to 1998, as it follows Steve Jobs and his co-workers and adversaries across three different product launches: the Apple Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT Computer System in 1988 and the iMac in 1998. All of the action and storytelling occurs behind the scenes of these launches, as Jobs engages in arguments and regular conversation with friends and foes, including Wozniak, Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), chief engineer Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) and launch planner Andy Cunningham (Sarah Snook). They talk about launch mishaps (the Macintosh mishap that begins the film being especially noteworthy), company infighting and outrageous decisions and demands from Jobs.
The most important part from this comes from Jobs’ relationship with his assistant at all these events, his self-professed “work wife” Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), as she tries to convince Jobs to accept his paternity of Lisa Brennan (Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Perla Haney-Jardine at different ages), something that he fights over with high school ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), despite secretly admitting that he has a fondness for Lisa.
Right off the bat, the acting is extraordinary from all the principal actors. Rogen is a standout, especially for audience members who haven’t seen him in a dramatic role before. Fassbender, although he looks nothing like his real-life counterpart, distracts from this with his acting skill. The same goes for everyone else, and the interactions Jobs has with his friends and foes are always highlights.
Boyle, known for his kinetic and hectic direction style in films like “Trainspotting,” “Sunshine” and “Slumdog Millionaire,” pulls back considerably in this film, allowing the acting, music and writing to command the scenes as he pilots. Sorkin shows his editing talent as he fires on all cylinders with this film. Audiences most likely are familiar with Sorkin from “The West Wing” and the “The Social Network.”
Despite the movie’s strengths, not everyone in the cast is used to their strengths. This is the case for Waterston as Jobs’ girlfriend, who does not make enough appearances. The same goes for Rogen, who plays off Fassbender well, but is not used enough in the film. Ultimately, however, this does not detract from the entertaining film, which features a talented cast, a great director and an exceptional writer.
Film: “Steve Jobs”
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2015