This is one of two hotly anticipated films based on the life and work of legendary Apple genius Steve Jobs (the other being written by Aaron Sorkin). Directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote) and featuring the talents of Ashton Kutcher as Jobs, Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak (also known as “The Woz” to many fans adept in Apple history), the film follows the biography of the Apple creator.
It opens at Jobs’ time at university where instead of finishing with his course, he drops out and continues to audit a variety of classes. As the narrative moves on it reveals his bumpy relationship with his co-workers and supervisor and his desire to work for himself, not for others. This quickly leads us to the introduction of Steve Wozniak, the modest founding of Apple and the grand plans Jobs has for the company. There are many hints in the dialogue about some of the company’s biggest achievements such as the Mac computers or the iPod. However, the film follows in detail only those events in Jobs’ life, which have something to do with Apple and NeXT, overlooking, for example, some of his contributions to what is now computer animation giant Pixar. This also demonstrates Apple’s importance to Jobs, the impact it has had on his life and vice versa – his dedication to Apple and its products. The origins of Apple’s adherence to quality and loyalty to customers are revealed, which lay in Jobs’ refusal to offer cheap or badly made machines to the market. His insistence on precision in the engineering and design are constantly reiterated, just as his determination for Apple products to be cool and inspirational.
Ashton Kutcher’s commitment to the role is prominent in each scene featuring Jobs as he has adopted his signature walk, way of talking, gestures and even his frutarian diet. He has captured an array of Steve Jobs’ traits and his performance shows what actually constituted the creator of Apple – the brains, the neuroticism, the slight arrogance, the courage, the drive to do differently and better than anybody else. We see little of his private life in appearances of his girlfriend, his wife, parents or the daughter he refuses to accept for so long, but perhaps the filmmakers shied away from personal elements just like he did himself.
…the rest of the characters featured in this account fade to the background…
Jobs doesn’t fixate on a specific conflict but rather makes a point of following the fate of the creator and his company and the vital relationship the two share. The narrative emphasizes the downfall the company suffers when Jobs is no longer involved in it and the emotional toll this takes on him. Giving the impression that in fact this separation is the reason for Apple’s sudden failure, Jobs’ return to Apple towards the end of the film is made to look like a rebirth with the Apple offices’ clean design.
On the other hand the lack of a central conflict and the major time gaps between events makes the plot lack balance. We see Kutcher’s Jobs throw himself at one project then another, questioning the authenticity of the representation and whether he was really this emotional about everything. As a consequence of this the rest of the characters featured in this account fade to the background and fail to leave a lasting impression on the audience. Perhaps this was a tool to convince the viewers in Jobs’ vital role in Apple’s creation and prosperity but the resulting narrative appears one-sided.
…in its aim to be inspirational it often strikes as unnecessarily sentimental…
The film makes an effort to portray Jobs’ character and his relationship to Apple in its entirety. Although it doesn’t concentrate on a specific point in time or a specific issue, the plot follows exactly what it says in the title – Jobs. Kutcher’s delivers a mature performance, aiming to recreate the defining character traits of someone who defined an era in technology. This is a good representation of Jobs’ main involvement with Apple for those who don’t really know much about him but in its aim to be inspirational it often strikes as unnecessarily sentimental.