“I love that you don’t care how much money a person makes, you care what they make. But what you make, shouldn’t be the best part of you.”
These words embody the central theme of director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s “Steve Jobs,” the biopic that sheds light on the Apple CEO’s obsession with creating the future and putting it in the palm of our hands.
The film’s frame takes the form of three crucial product presentations that launched Jobs to the forefront of technological culture, spanning from 1984 to 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.
The combination of Boyle’s electric direction and Sorkin’s zippy screenplay weave together these “events” seamlessly, so much so that the two-hour runtime that spans 14 years feels like it’s over in no time at all.
However, that also may have something to do with the fact that the film doesn’t exactly delve too far into Jobs’ past or experiences outside of the technological field. The plot feels stripped of many components one might see in a typical biopic in that it doesn’t focus on Jobs’ past or personal life to the degree one might expect…or does it?
Jobs, played with narcissistic class by Michael Fassbender (“X-Men: Days of Future Past”), is portrayed as a prick, to put it bluntly. He surprisingly has few redeeming qualities early on in the film and the screenplay makes sure that the audience knows just how little he cares about his daughter and her mother in comparison to his inventions.
As the film progresses, it’s up to the audience to decide whether Jobs is worthy of his fame and success. On the surface, he’s painted as entirely egocentric, with his head in his work and farther up his behind. Peel back the surface and the relationship between Jobs and his daughter is at the center. It’s a relationship that, like Jobs’ launch into the limelight, takes time to blossom.
So “Steve Jobs” isn’t entirely devoid of emotion or relatability after all; it just, like the title character himself, chooses to ignore them until it can’t anymore. If the story of Jobs’ inventions are its mind, then that of his daughter is its heart. It beats softly and reluctantly, but by the end of the film is thumping through the chest.
The film unfortunately bombed at the box office over the weekend. Despite Apple being a financial juggernaut, the film about its co-founder and CEO is not. There’s a lot that can be blamed: for instance, Michael Fassbender is a brilliant actor, but he’s not the audience-magnet that Leonardo DiCaprio is, who was originally considered for the role. The cold-as-ice demeanor of the title character is hard to sell.
Box office numbers aside, “Steve Jobs” is a great film. Like the person at the core of its subject matter, it’s just hard to warm up to at first.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5