First Watch: Steve Jobs

The trailer for Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs asks if a great man can be a good a man, or as Steve Wozniak’s character says, “both decent and gifted.” Steve Jobs, the character, isn’t interested in that morality or with pleasing anyone but himself. Jobs’s only motivation is sharing his vision with the world, giving all that he has to give, the entirety of his flawed self. He knows no other way. Jobs also knows what we want before we want it, and he leaves us to catch up. The movie follows Steve Jobs backstage through a maze of messy relationships, joining the endless queue for his attention. It’s a constant chase and we are always a few steps behind.

Fassbender’s portrayal of Jobs is believable and gripping. The movie revolves around three product launches — three of the tensest moments of his life. The small scope of the story and close-up shots revealing only a fraction of Jobs’s face suggest the audience is only receiving half of the story, half of the man. Fassbender argues that idea, emitting a full range of emotion, easily transitioning from aggressive to lighthearted in a matter of moments. Immediately following the film’s best scene, a heated encounter with Apple CEO played by Sorkin favorite, Jeff Daniels, Fassbender playfully slides down a stair rail.

As expected, the Aaron Sorkin screenplay is perfect. Accompanied by a subtle, pulsating score from Daniel Pemberton, his magical words with musical cadence are fit for the grand stage of Steve Jobs. The man and the movie are made for theater. Each product launch is grander and more ambitious, each encounter filled with more angst and resentment, each crescendo echoing louder, culminating in an impromptu showdown between Rogen and Fassbender. Their relationship is the most captivating and often results in Rogen delivering some of the film’s most poignant advice. Rogen as a dramatic actor is great. He is always on his back foot, perfectly encapsulating the apprehension everyone employs during an encounter with Jobs.

Jobs’s list of friends dwindles fewer by the minute, but the movie still makes it difficult to choose sides. We are all too familiar with the mythology and genius of his work. Even during the film’s most humanizing moments, Jobs is unable to help himself from his own genius, keeping a safe distant from others. That is where we must remain, outside of the room, eavesdropping. We can question the truth of what we hear, but we cannot turn away; the story is too great.