Can a great man be a good man?
Opening at the launch of the Mac in 1984, Steve Jobs takes us behind the curtain to those unseen high-pressure moments, to when Jobs finally takes the stage to his defining moment in 1998.
Steve Jobs was not a simple man. Depending on your age, your immediate impression can be strikingly different. Some may think he was a visionary, some may think he is the most genius businessman in the tech world ever, some may think he was an egomaniacal ass. The film adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s book about the man tries to show him as each one as we journey with Jobs across his three main product launches. All the while grounding the story in his personal life and strained relationship with his estranged wife and biological daughter.
Steve Jobs is a film that is the definition of dialogue heavy. Every aspect of the story is told through the conversations Jobs has with the other characters. Each person has a very different relationship with him and reveals the many sides of Jobs, the man. The drama of the story through the dialogue is engaging. And the tone of the film is kinetic, with distinct shifts keyed by the score and characters’ emotional response.
The narrative gets a bit too cyclically unrealistic for my taste. As Aaron Sorkin takes us through fourteen years of Steve Jobs’s life at these three pivotal moments, the conversations have too many unfeasible parallels. Jobs asks his colleagues “Do you remember that conversation we had?” And we as the audience say “Yes, because it happened 30 minutes ago.” It would have been far more impressive if Sorkin crafted these oratorical connections over the years as abstract rather than impractically literal.
When I watch a biopic, I want to end feeling like I know the core essence of that person. I want the good, the bad, the highs, the lows, and most of all I want it to be the raw true story of the complicated person. What I don’t want is a glossed over version clearly made by an admirer because then the film isn’t authentic to the individual.
In the end, the film concludes just when the real drama is about to start, and that is its greatest weakness. We do not see Steve Jobs sick and it ends trying to put a false bow on his relationships with his peers and daughter. It is a gargantuan misstep and copout to end with Jobs being introspectively sentimental and “good” when that is not the real story. Of course, with this caliber of film and with this accomplished of a cast, there are given expectations in quality that comes with the territory. In that regard, Steve Jobs doesn’t exceed but simply meets them.
Steve Jobs – Movie Review