Movie Review: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.(IMDb)

Not to be confused with 2013’s Jobs (starring Ashton Kutcher), the Aaron Sorkin penned and Danny Boyle directed Steve Jobs is thrillingly entertaining.

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The film is essentially split into three acts, at three pivotal points in Steve Jobs’ professional life: opening in 1984 for the arrival of the Macintosh, skipping forward to 1988, by which point Jobs and Apple have parted ways, and the unveiling of the failed NeXTcube and finally to 1998 for the unveiling of the iMac and Apple’s upcoming market domination. All of the action, personal and professional, is staged backstage before these very public events. There’s spectacular tension as Steve Jobs butts heads with employees, collaborators, friends and even his daughter – all while we countdown to showtime.

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Danny Boyle directs in elegant and clever fashion – the film is laid out almost like a stage play – it is operatic in scope, impressively articulate and filmed with dizzying movement on screen.  The film is sleek and sophisticated – and so unbelievably smart, even in its execution – as the picture quality evolves from the grainy texture of 16mm stock through the rich gloss of 35mm to the too-sharp resolution of digital, the film’s face evolving with its products (a seriously impressive move from director of photography Alwin H Küchler).

Aaron Sorkin is a wordsmith, his scripts are known for intelligent and breathtaking verbal gymnastics. With Steve Jobs, Sorkin has created a movie about a fast-talking, arrogant, emotionally illiterate and obsessive genius-innovator. Sorkin has acknowledged that there is a fair amount of fiction in his interpretation of Steve Jobs, the man, but that does not detract from the myth of the genius at the helm of a technological revolution.

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“The musicians play their instruments, I play the orchestra.”

This cast is phenomenal – there’s a seamless interplay of outstanding performances here. The supporting cast, including Jeff Daniels, as Apple EO John Sculley – the one-time father figure who would eventually fire Jobs; Michael Stuhlbarg as the genius Andy Hertzfeld; Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan, Jobs’ ex-girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, Lisa (Makenzie Moss at 5, Ripley Sobo at 9 and Perla Haney-Jardine at 19), whom he long refused to acknowledge as his or support financially; and Seth Rogen who turns in a really fantastic and nuanced performance as Apple co-founder and old friend Steve Wozniak.

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The film is carried by two solid central performances from Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet. As Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ right-hand woman and sometimes conscience, Kate Winslet is strong and in command of an outstanding performance. She serves as the voice of reason to Steve Jobs’ obsessive focus.

The real star of this almost manic one-man show is Michael Fassbender – who is absolutely mesmerizing as Steve Jobs. Fassbender (a personal favorite) is one of the most exciting and fearless actors currently working in film. He doesn’t really physically resemble Steve Jobs, but rather embodies his relentless drive. Fassbender is unflinching and inherently watchable, even when he’s playing arrogant, cruel or obsessive – it’s an electrifying and relentless performance, one of the best of the 2015 contenders and worthy of awards season glory.

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Steve Jobs is a stunning film with enthralling performances, a top notch script and entrancing direction – it’s one of the best of the year.

 

 

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