It’s remarkably good.
And it’s not the fact that it’s about Steve Jobs that makes it good. It’s just a really good movie.
There’s not a story, per se. There’s not really a beginning, middle and end. It’s more like a three-part symphony played out in pictures and words, that explores the themes of parentage, parenthood and being human.
You could literally pull Steve Jobs and Apple out of the movie and it would still be a riveting exploration of one man’s struggle to discover himself in light of his familial history, even as he alienates and rejects his own child, amongst the scenery and colour of the people around him.
The characters play more as muses and demons and angels in an almost Shakespearean way. This is Hamlet for our modern day, featuring a man seized with self-hatred and angst that he desparately tried to weave into something good and pure, all the while battling away the light that shines all around him.
This is not about Steve Jobs and his trials and tribulations as a corporate executive. Jobs is just the vehicle for a larger thematic framework. It’s about the struggle we all face to be human under extenuating circumstances.
How does one balance the motivation to succeed professionally with a child’s need to be loved by its parents? Do we stay at work for that meeting to advance the project, or do we attend the Remembrance Day ceremony that our child is performing in? Steve Jobs just happens to be the perfect case study for just such a question.
How do we reconcile friendship with the use of people? Are we hanging out with someone we know as an act of friendship, or are we simply managing a relationship to coerce support for some other interest? Jobs’ life story is the perfect extreme-example foil for this sort of conflict that many of us struggle with every day.
I didn’t go to Steve Jobs expecting much. But it was one of the best cinematic experiences of my life. The writing was so tight, the direction tense and supple, the acting directly authentic and affective. More to the point, it was thematic to the point of allegory. This film wasn’t about Steve Jobs, it was about me. And you.
The story of Steve Jobs is tiresome now. Apple is such a big, ugly company now that none of us want to hear any more about it.
But this film deserves our attention. It’s a deeply moving story of what it is to be human in our age.