Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs is a masterwork in editing, use of music, and fine performances doused with the dialogue that is unmistakably that of Aaron Sorkin. The man in the title, played by Michael Fassbender, is presented as he’s often said to have been: frustrating. There are certainly times in this picture where the audience will be angry at Mr. Jobs and Sorkin’s script doesn’t sugarcoat his considerable flaws, which include his inability to acknowledge his own daughter. At the same time, this is a work that appreciates its central character, imperfections and all.
The film is constructed much like a play and in three acts centered around the launch of the Apple Founder’s products. In 1984, it’s the Macintosh. In 1988, the failed NeXT computer after Steve had been dumped from his own company. In 1998, the iMac which helped lead to iEverything and market domination. Through this 14 year journey, we meet the people who populate this temperamental genius’s life. There’s his marketing exec Joanna (Kate Winslet), constantly by Steve’s side and witness to historical triumphs and her boss’s failures. Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) is the jilted company cofounder who kept Apple afloat for many years while Jobs got all the credit. John Sculley (a typically rock solid Jeff Daniels) is the CEO who is both an enemy and father figure. And the biggest through line comes from Lisa, the daughter that Steve can’t bring himself to properly father.
Steve Jobs eschews the conventional cliches of a biopic, just as the man who hated conventional may have preferred. While Fassbender doesn’t exactly resemble Steve, his performance is quite an accomplishment and succeeds in nailing down his complexities. The loyal yet often flustered Joanna is brought to life wonderfully by Winslet. Sorkin’s well known snappy dialogue should please his many admirers and the story structure is creative enough that you probably won’t quibble with reported historical inaccuracies. Truth be told, no two hour tale could properly nail presenting the enigmatic title subject, but Steve Jobs the film has a talented team doing their level best.
Love or hate him or (like most) appreciative and confounded by him, this picture fascinatingly is another puzzle piece of the man whose existence constantly is at our fingertips.
***1/2 (out of four)