Jobs ★★★

This is a difficult story to encapsulate in a film. Jobs' career - not to mention his life - has a lot of intriguing twists and turns, but some of the most interesting parts of his story are so divergent from its central arc that devoting screen time to exploring them makes for a labyrinthian film. So this film doesn't do that. And that's okay. But it poses an obstacle that Kutcher and the supporting cast aren't able to overcome.

I went into this film expecting Kutcher to completely miss the mark with his portrayal of Jobs. He doesn't nail it, but he does a far better job in the whole of the film than he does in any single scene. The subtle nuances of Jobs' posture, gait and speech patterns are exaggerated but it's convincing enough that after the first act, Kutcher doesn't get in the way. Ashton is very obviously "present" in far too many scenes to give him a gold star, and he struggles to capture the depression and sadness inherent in many scenes. But his work here isn't the folly of the film. Nor is it the supporting cast, who are on the whole an impressive ensemble.

The film falls apart by jumping through Jobs' life, but focusing centrally on the weight of Apple and it's tumultuous run while giving us very little insight into Jobs' motivations. The film provides little substance behind his reasons to abandon his child, his striving for perfection in hardware and software, and his feelings for friends and colleagues. It shows more than it reveals, and we're left with a laundry list of things that happened without much understand of why they did.

Walter Isaacson's book does a far better job of providing these insights, and I don't expect a film to be able to convey the same. By focussing on Jobs' life before his cancer, the impression I have is that the filmmakers understood that editing and omitting of the entire Jobs story is required to create a compelling film. But this film still feels incomplete, and I don't think that it's because this story couldn't be told.

In his career, Jobs strived for perfection, clarity, and overcoming obstacles without compromise. This film really could have benefitted from following the principles of its subject.

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