The official Steve Jobs biopic, written by Aaron Sorkin, was shown at the Telluride Film Festival for a preliminary screening ahead of its cinema debut on October 9th. The reviews are in and seem to be very good indeed. Variety called it “a terrific actors’ showcase and an incorrigibly entertaining ride that looks set to be one of the fall’s early must-see attractions.”
The film is just over two hours long, with Michael Fassbender who plays Jobs, being a standout success. The Guardian described Fassbender playing the lead role as a transformative experience with others already lobbying Fassbender for an Oscar for the part. We’ve compiled some quotes from various reviews below. Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak seems to like the film as well …
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In an interview with Deadline, Wozniak said that it was like seeing the real Steve Jobs go about his business:
When I caught up with him Wozniak told me that, unlike the Jobs biopic with Ashton Kutcher, this one is totally authentic. “I saw a rough cut and I felt like I was actually watching Steve Jobs and the others (including Rogen’s dead-on portrayal of Wozniak), not actors playing them, I give full credit to Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin for getting it so right,” he enthusiastically told me.
Wozniak’s comments are mirrored by many other movie publications. Time Out gave the film a 4/5 rating, saying it is ”astonishingly brilliant whenever it’s not breaking your heart’.
As shown by some of the film trailers, Jobs’ ‘broken’ relationship with his daughter Lisa is portrayed throughout tying together the event timeline with an emotional kicker, as described by Hollywood Reporter.
Still, Steve Jobs might have been a too remote, too documentary-like film if it weren’t for the element of his daughter Lisa. This part of Jobs’ story is painful in human terms, with the child of one of the nation’s richest men obliged to live, along with her mother, on a pittance in squalid surroundings; getting anything out of him, be it love or money, provokes legitimate comparisons to Scrooge. But as Lisa grows older, there is a bit of understanding on her part and a degree of grudging generosity from him, providing the film with its bit of heart.
One of the most clever elements of the movie is how it is recorded. The plot revolves around three product presentations, one from 1984, one from 1988 and one from 1998. However, to sell the story of time development, the scenes are shot using different film technologies of the era — grainy 16mm for scenes in 1984, 35mm for 1988 and highly-defined digital cameras for the 1998 sequences.
Variety describes this attention to detail as a distinction that “may well be lost on the vast majority of viewers, but it’s just the sort of nicely understated aesthetic flourish that Steve Jobs himself would have surely appreciated.”
It’s worth noting that although the timeline is centered around the three product launches, you see very little of Jobs actually presenting on stage. The film is framed by a prologue sequence by Arthur C Clarke announcing the concept of a ‘small’ personal computer … which has many ulterior connotations that are then demonstrated by Jobs in the film. IndieWire explains:
Yet structurally, Sorkin has delivered a masterwork of narrative economy. Never once showing Jobs actually delivering his speeches, “Steve Jobs” instead demystifies those famed performances to find Jobs in his natural state — that is, keen on manipulating everyone around him, and furious when the pieces don’t fit. The only reality he knows involves his domination.
Most reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with many comparisons to The Social Network as another Aaron Sorkin success story. Crave details how the novel 3-segment story describes the life of a single man so eloquently. It may be the official biography film but it’s very different to the chapters of the Isaacson book.
Steve Jobs is another crackling Aaron Sorkin script, complete with walk and talks. Instead of applying this banter to a linear series of events (or a direct adaptation of the Walter Isaacson biography), Sorkin structured the film in three major sequences that encapsulate the entirety of the man. It’s extraordinary, and Danny Boyle directs the hell out of it too.
The film will be shown in cinemas from October 9th. It will be a little while before we’ll see the recognition, if any, from the awards shows but the takeaway from these reviews is very positive.