Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Structured like a three-act play, the film unfolds during three product launches painstakingly orchestrated by Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) to every detail, long before the catch phrase "One more thing..." became the cue for announcing a grand excitement. Up to the last minute of each launch, he is roaming around the stage and the dressing room lashing out at just about everybody, with his loyal marketing executive Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) by his side.
Back in 1984, after the provocative Apple 1984 Super Bowl commercial, Steve is about to let Macintosh say hello to the world in Cupertino, CA. When he learns that the demo may not work as he planned, he unflinchingly orders the software engineer Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg): "Fix it!"
The second act is during the launch of NeXT in 1988 at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, after Steve was fired from Apple due to Macintosh's poor performance in sales. Once again he dismisses the importance of Apple II invented by his pal Steve "Woz" Wozniak (Seth Rogen). After Woz angrily asks Steve "Who are you? What do you do?" Steve proudly quotes conductor Seiji Ozawa: "Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra."
The final act is about the launch of iMac in 1998 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Now Steve is back at Apple, but his temperament only gets more contentious and arrogant, and even Joanna threatens to leave him. Yet, he is even more convinced that his vision will change the world, and declares his victory to former Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels).
Timed perfectly right before each of these three launches, Steve is repeatedly forced to confront with two people he agonizes over the most: his estranged ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) and Lisa (Makenzie Moss at the age of 5, Ripley Sobo at the age the of 9, Perla Haney-Jardine at the age of 19), his daughter whom he is reluctant to recognize.
Academy-award winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is known for writing fast-paced and sharp-tongued dialogue. That is even more evident in this film. The superb screenplay serves as the most powerful weapon for the director Danny Boyle in crafting intense and suspenseful drama happening in the least exciting places: stairwells, hall ways, dressing rooms, even a roof-top parking lot (where I can see my office in the background). Despite that the gunpowder-filled conversation is full of jargon in technology and business, the exchanges are constantly engaging and thrilling. As if following the motto of Steve Jobs and Seiji Ozawa, Danny Boyle beautifully plays the orchestra in the film.
Of course, the successful performance of this orchestra cannot be made possible without the outstanding ensemble cast. It's a pure pleasure to see each actor pitch-perfectly delivers in the film no matter how big or small a role is. That would make Steve Jobs, the ultimate perfectionist and control-freak, proud. Michael Fassbender is surely to get an Oscar nomination for sensibly portraying such a complex and colorful character.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about Steve Jobs, and this film won't end that debate by any means. To the contrary, it may even add more fuel to the fire. But one thing that is certain is that Steve Jobs's legacy continues to make tremendous impact on the lives in every corner of the world, and you won't forget the fierce gaze behind Michael Fassbender's glasses anytime soon.