Director: Danny Boyle (2015)
A terrifically talented cast are in perfect sync in this biopic of Steve Jobs, the charismatic and complex founder of the technology giant Apple Inc.
It’s as smooth, sleek and as tightly engineered as one of their computers or iPhones, but has problems with it’s memory and crashes at the worst possible time.
A binary figure who considered his employees to be with him or looking for a new errr, job, the Apple chief died in 2011.
Far from PC, he’s a bullying, vindictive and paranoid, a control freak with a messiah complex who inspires a noisy devotion in his disciples.
The university dropout was neither an engineer or a designer but was blessed with an intuitive understanding there are vast amounts of money to be earned through brand design and marketing.
Plus trapping his customers into an operating system incompatible with competing systems or products creates slaves of his customers.
This obsession with creating a closed operating system reflects Jobs emotional inner life. The prophet of the future surrounds himself with an emotional firewall.
In contrast, sociable Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak who wants to create a more flexible, adaptable open system, while urging Jobs to acknowledge the role others have played in the success of the company.
They produced a computer so intuitive to use a five year old could begin to use it without instruction, the five year old being his daughter Lisa, played by Makenzie Moss.
The script is intelligent, sharp and scorchingly funny in its early stages, there’s no romance, sex or violence, except for when Jobs downloads a torrent of abuse on his colleagues, friends and family.
Framed as a three act play, each act focusses on the press launch of a new Apple product: the expensive first Macintosh computer in 1984, the disastrous NeXT in 1988 and the revolutionary classic iMac in 1998.
As Jobs is celebrated, sacked and rises again the drama stalls.
A lack of a martyr makes for a dull finale as the self-mythologising messiah is allowed his moment of destiny defining redemption.
But it’s never pointed out the Big Brother imagery invoked to attack his rivals products could easily be used to criticise Jobs and Apple itself.
He is creepily aware of the small details of his colleagues’ lives. They form a dysfunctional surrogate family.
Kate Winslet sports a Polish accent and some unfortunate fashions as Joanna, Jobs’ head of marketing and his ‘work wife’. It says something about a corporation when the marketing department represents its compassionate soul.
Jeff Daniels is father figure John Sculley, the ill-fated CEO of Apple against whom Jobs rebels. Seth Rogen plays his ‘bro’ Wozniak.
Few directors possess director Danny Boyle’s consummate command of music to accentuate the visual drama, or have his ability to cajole convincing performances out of young children.
Though Boyle’s attempts to add some visual dynamism through his restless camerawork, he can’t illuminate the dark confines of a dialogue heavy script.
An early girlfriend aside any reference to Jobs’ romantic life is absent. The huge job cuts he instigated on his triumphant return to the company are glossed over.
Coldly calculating in it’s refusal to condemn Jobs for his sins smacks of legal compromise. It’s not possible to libel the dead but one suspects Apple employ extraordinarily expensive lawyers to police it’s brand.
By the end we’re far from convinced of Jobs’ genius, as his only identifiable talent seems to be in rude manipulation, at which he is extraordinary.