Steve Jobs (Boyle, 2015)

Steve Jobs

In this highly impressionistic biopic of Steve Jobs, a visionary figure of modern culture, Danny Boyle’s distinct stylistic panache counters its tacit journalistic responsibilities. Indeed complete of visual flair and artistic nuance, his singular aesthetic design is such that subjective vision and evocation of this vision overcomes the film’s content. Complemented by Sorkin’s intellectual yet idiosyncratic script, Steve Jobs is simultaneously an entertaining delight and an exhausting experiment of form. This, of course, is especially bothersome of a biopic, wherein embellished scripts and artistic license is especially frowned upon.

Focusing on three specific moments, yet using these three moments to speak about decades of events and encounters, Steve Jobs feels overly reliant on dialogue, while stylistic flourishes primarily serve superfluous purposes. The dramatic, almost theatrical nature of its conveyed dialogues give little of a sense of authenticity, suggesting that while much of the content may be true what is certainly untrue are the hows and whens. It is exceedingly doubtful that these three moments were as particularly momentous in Jobs’ life, both career and personal, as presented on screen.

And yet the film’s stylistic opulence is at once its greatest feature. If forgiven for factual inaccuracy or journalistic responsibility, Steve Jobs succeeds on a purely artistic level. The use of walk-and-talk Sorkin-esque dialogue well befits the nature of the characters and story. Visual and auditory inflections, such as neon reds, canted angles, and an electronic score, provide at the least a consistent artistic vision. And this artistic vision leads to a rather strong psychological evocation of a person, if only a single-minded interpretation of such.

While Fassbender is captivating as the lead, accolades are truly deserved by Jeff Daniels and Seth Rogen who well portray their supporting characters. In an especially powerful scene, Boyle and Sorkin’s combined stylistic inflections produce a cross-cut,  shot-reverse-shot dialogue between Jobs (Fassbender) and Sculley (Daniels) from two separate moments in time, two arguments which are simultaneously fully of visual energy and literary intrigue. It yields a particularly impressive performance from Jeff Daniels which easily rivals favourite scenes from Sorkin-written scenes in the Newsroom. On the other hand, Kate Winslet’s Polish/Austrian/American accent might be the most distracting aspect of the film, changing in thickness from line to line yet impossibly little between ’84 and ’98.

70/100 – Good.

3 Stars

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About Kamran Ahmed

I have a Masters in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. I work as a freelance writer and film critic in Vancouver. My writing is primarily distributed through Next Projection, an online film journal based in Toronto.
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