While we are familiar with the story of how Steve Jobs made Apple the sophisticated parallel of the Microsoft Universe, it is also no secret that he was not the nicest coworker. So how does a film overcome the celebratory nature of his credited accomplishments and recognize his less admirable side? How can a director identify the empire he built as simultaneously inspiring and notorious? In order to portray the real Jobs, director Danny Boyle had to go beyond director Joshua Michael Stern’s 2013 portrayal of the icon, dissecting him on a human level, diving beneath the surface appearance of Jobs.
Since Jobs passed away in 2013, there have been two different biographical stories. Released two short months after Jobs passed away, Joshua Michael Stern’s “Jobs (2013)” starred Ashton Kutcher as the diabolical icon. The second portrayal of Jobs’ life was Danny Boyle’s “Steve Jobs (2015)”, with Michael Fassbender playing a less frustrating Jobs.
Stern tells the story in a steady, chronological manner, documenting the long process of Jobs’ rocky climb to greatness. Kutcher portrays a genius asshole while Fassbender delivers a more complex characterization. Fassbander’s more intimate portrayal focused closely on what went on backstage, rather than solely Jobs’ grand performance . Boyle brings in Kate Winslet as Job’s longtime confidant, partner and PR handler, Joanna Hoffman, creating an irresistible dynamic through unapologetic imprudence and unyielding trust between the two. While Fassbender portrays Jobs as ruthless yet forgivable, Kutcher abandoned the forgivable quality in his characterization of Jobs.
Stern’s landslide of events highlights the worst part of Jobs while Boyle’s in depth focus cuts the limelight to shed light on the humanity within most notorious genius of our era. Fassbender lures the poetic side of Jobs on to the screen while Kutcher drags out the dick that every one resents.
Stern fails to depict Jobs’ forgivable features because he throws so much information at the audience. The overemphasis on Job’s obsession with his empire illustrates the man as a mad control freak rather than a musician who knows how to play the orchestra well as Boyle brought to light. Boyle digs deep into the relationships Jobs shares with the people around him with impeccable humor. He also delves in on the reasoning behind Jobs’ perfectionist mindset—to make machines more relatable to humans. Most importantly, Boyle depicts a more complicated relationship between Jobs and his daughter, Lisa. Rather than just being an ex-girlfriend’s child he abandoned on his path to success, Boyle brings to light Jobs’ own abandonment experiences as a child. Boyle creates a human being rather than simply someone climbing the ladder to success. While Steve Jobs lusts for perfection, he is not just a madman. He is also a socially awkward genius, fighting to make the world a more comfortable place to live in. He was an undesirable coworker yet was constantly in search of ways to make the world a more comfortable place. Although Boyle revealed the background behind some of his controversial actions, they still cannot be entirely excused.
While Kutcher represents Jobs as one-dimensional, Fassbender, on the other hand, shows us that a madman is more than simply his visible actions and there is always more than one side to a story.