Admittedly, I knew very little about Steve Jobs before going in to see the new film, JOBS based on his life. Of course I knew who he was, I’d seen him talk at World Wide Development Conferences and picked up the book on his life (never to actually delve into the pages). I heard rumblings of his unfair labor practices and was, like everyone else, blinded by media coverage of his untimely death and fascinated by his refusal of anything non-holistic. He was a name associated with a brand that infiltrated every space of my technological self, and yet I knew very little about who he was and why he did what he did.
JOBS, directed by Joshua Michael Stern and featuring a surprisingly serious Ashton Kutcher as the titular character, did little to illuminate my knowledge of the man behind the laptop on which I write this review. The film begins with the reveal of the iPod and then takes us all the way back to Jobs’ non-college years at Reed where he dropped out as an undergraduate, but continued to sit in on classes. We follow him from early days at Atari, to co-founding Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak (played incredibly well by Josh Gad) in his father’s basement, to becoming a computer megastar. Of course there are trials and tribulations, bumps that send Jobs scurrying away from his own company and eventually bring him back. Overall these interesting and complicated transitions, integral to Jobs’ own personal philosophy as a visionary, seem glossed over. Even moments of drastic change for Jobs feel so perfectly laid out and anticipatory that their drama is thwarted.
In choosing to focus solely on the major company-centric moments that lead up to Jobs’rise and fall and rise again as Apple’s CEO, the film skims over the personal details about Jobs that feel so incredibly needed for the story’s heart and emotional foundation. A pregnancy scare with an old girlfriend followed by her eventual replacement by a blonder and skinnier wife provides a glimpse into Jobs’ life beyond the office walls. It is evident that he is a workaholic with no time for himself, or his family, or his love life, but this reviewer find is hard to believe that Steve Jobs’ own harsh personality and penchant for revolution (often on the brink of insanity) appeared out of thin air.
To the films favor, for the most part it treats Jobs as a flawed man, an anti-hero whose behavior makes your cringe but whose philosophy feels marvelous and brilliant. It does not shy away from showing his defects as a growing man, as an absent father or a bad friend – it puts them on fair display.
By the end of the film, while the words of Jobs blast over a montage of the people who he’s met, and some whom he has taken advantage of, his words feel idealized, his dialogue feels so stale, so recorded. Though Kutcher manages to carry the character with a marginal amount of grace, and though many of his angry moments feel real, there is a wishful desire to hear authentic dialogue from the technological giant. His sly Jobs smile, however, is pretty spot on.
For the little knowledge I have of Steve Jobs, I do know he was interesting; flawed, brutal, antisocial and brilliant – some would even say, a revolutionary. JOBS the film however, delivers a nominal amount of the former leaving its audience with poignant opinions.
Written By: Sarah Dunn who is 25 and has been living in New York City for the past 8 years. A graduate of Columbia Film Studies program, she is a film-fanatic, trailer-obsessed lover of movies, and currently works as a post-production supervisor for Treehouse Pictures. She’s been known to comb through entire TV series on Netflix in a day, knows far too much about feminist film theory, and consistently prefers to dump her M&Ms inside her popcorn rather than eat them separately.