The Man in the Machine

Steve Jobs was a businessman, chairman and co-founder… to name just a few of his achievements, but to some people Steve Jobs was a pioneering visionary who was in part responsible for the company that is eponymous with technology, for decades (and still) one of the leading companies responsible for some of the most advanced yet simple electronic products – Apple.

Danny Boyle’s new cinematic offering is about the life of Steve Jobs (portrayed by Michael Fassbender) during the lead up to three important and hugely stressful product launches and showcases every nail-biting moment that goes on behind the scenes during those launches. Of course we are aware that the focus is going to be mainly on Steve Jobs, but there is another key player within the biopic that is a credit to the screenplays authenticity, that player being Joanna Hoffman (portrayed by Kate Winslet) who was Jobs marketing executive. Winslet brings a breath of life to a film that very much relies on expertly crafted dialogue that is thrown back and forth between Jobs and Hoffman, which is the result of Aaron Sorkin’s intellectual and impressive screenplay.

The first act of Steve Jobs focuses on the tribulations before the Apple Macintosh launch in 1984, one of those tribulations being the fact that the machine being used for the product launch will not perform a vital function – which is to say hello. This was a factor that Jobs felt completely necessary for the Macintosh as it was what made it feel personal to the user, and without that greeting working, it felt to Steve like a huge loss if it was not to work. Apple engineer Andy Hertzfeld (portrayed by Michael Stuhlbarg) is responsible for fixing the issue, which I would imagine would have been a mountain of stress at the time.

An important theme throughout the film is family, which to a viewer watching with fresh eyes may be surprised in a biopic that is so heavily indebted inside the world of computing and technology. That family theme comes through with Jobs ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (portrayed by Katherine Waterston) Jobs is adamant that he is not the father of Brennan’s daughter Lisa, who at the time is five years old. Jobs absolute refusal to financially support Chrisann with Lisa despite his wealth angers her and is the main cause of their heated arguments.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is featured throughout the film (portrayed by Seth Rogen) and a large focus-point is that Wozniak wants Jobs to recognize the Apple II team in one of the Apple product launch speeches. As well as Wozniak, CEO John Sculley (portrayed by Jeff Daniels) is also an important piece of the film.

What is impressive with Steve Jobs, is the films simplicity, all it has and needs to work with is great dialogue and genuine, fully realised performances from the main cast which shine through, especially Winslet’s take on Joanna Hoffman. Danny Boyle’s directing ability is fully realised here, although the subject at hand may seem to take away from some of the individuality that Boyle’s past forays have shown us.

I walked away from Steve Jobs understanding more about his manic passion for perfection and how he was able to revolutionize so many technological industries that we have grown accustomed to in our day to day lives, and for that I have to applaud him.




Written by Dylan Cantwell

Lifelong fan of all things film and TV