Director: Danny Boyle.
Screenwriter: Aaron Sorkin.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, Makenzie Moss, John Ortiz, Adam Shapiro, Sarah Snook.
“They won’t know what they’re looking at or why they like it but they’ll know they want it”
With The Social Network in 2011, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin managed to strike a chord with critics and audiences by making a film about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg an improbable success. Sorkin went on to win an Oscar for his writing but, personally, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. This time Sorkin is at it again by focusing on Apple Inc. co-founder, Steve Jobs and if this film is anything to go by, I really should give The Social Network another chance. Throughout the 1980’s & 90’s, entrepreneur Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) is at the epicentre of a digital revolution. His ingenuity drives him to the forefront of digital technology but the impact his innovations have on the changing world also cause personal and professional internal conflicts.When this film was first announced, I struggled to see what the appeal was. We’d already had Ashton Kutcher take on the role in Jobs in 2013 and that’s a film I had (and still have) little desire to see. As much as I often have my nose stuck to my iPhone (which is also the very device that I write this review on) and can appreciate the technological inventions that Steve Jobs has been involved in, he’s not a man that piques my interest. What did grab me, however, was the abundance of talent involved in this project and the fact that Fassbender can do no wrong these days.To be honest, I expected the film to be a slog but it didn’t turn out that way. Straight from the offset, Danny Boyle hits the ground running and doesn’t stop for the entirety of the films 2 hour duration. There’s an impressive kinetic energy to his direction and Boyle deserves applause for managing to turn a fairly generic story into something exciting. It’s not just Boyle that’s on form here, though. Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue laden script fizzes with gripping conversations and Fassbender delivers an absolutely towering performance. It’s a demanding role that requires Fassbender to be onscreen at all times and considering he doesn’t stop talking, this (by his own admission) was a real challenge for him to remember his lines. Quite simply, his Oscar nomination is thoroughly deserved. It’s increasingly looking like it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s year with his work in The Revenant but where DiCaprio displayed a physical performance, Fassbender’s is a very wordy one. As their work are polar opposites, it’s difficult to choose between them but it would be wrong to begrudge Fassbender a nod such is the effort he puts in. It’s a tremendous achievement. The strong supporting cast in Winslet, Rogen and Daniels also deliver fine work and cannot be overlooked with their overall contribution but, ultimately, it’s Boyle, Sorkin and Fassbender that really bring the film to life.Jobs is depicted as an inventive genius but not an entirely likeable one and that’s the mantle upon which the film rests. It’s an astute and unflinching character study and although some (or most) events are fictional the film’s drive is to explore both the man and the myth. In doing so, Boyle and Sorkin employ a three act structure that focuses on Jobs before and during each launch of his latest product. Act I is about the arrival of the Apple Mackintosh in 1984, Act II, the introduction of the NeXT Cube in 1988 and Act III, the world changing iMac in 1998. Boyle also cleverly approaches these three acts by shooting them with different film; 16mm, 35mm and then digital to capture the changing times and the influence of technology. Fassbender also wisely doesn’t try to mimic Steve Jobs; as this is predominantly a fictional retelling of the events in his life, it’s less about capturing Jobs as a whole and more about exploring the contradictory nature of a flawed visionary. For a man who’s products brought the world together, he struggled to maintain personal connections with those closest to him. It’s this irony that makes for an intriguing psychological portrait.Much better than I expected it to be. In fact, it has no right being as entertaining as it is. Not that I ever questioned the talents of Fassbender, Boyle and Sorkin but it just goes to show how well a film can come together when all the ingredients are in place.Mark Walker
Trivia: David Fincher was originally attached to direct but his demands couldn’t be met by the studio. Fincher also wanted Christian Bale to play the lead role. After his departure, Danny Boyle signed on to direct and Leonardo DiCaprio was approached before passing on the project.