Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogan, Michael Stuhlbarg
There are so many films and TV movies about Steve Jobs, that it’s becoming difficult to keep track of them all. The latest, Steve Jobs, written by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball, The Social Network) might be the most unique and intelligent look into the life of the modern day genius. While the film is directed another Oscar winner, Danny Boyle, (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours), this is Sorkin’s show and there is very little of director’s footprint on this picture. It’s the intense performances from Oscar nominee Fassbender (12 Years a Slave, X-Men), Oscar winner Winslet (The Reader, Insurgent) and Sorkin’s Newsroom cast member Jeff Daniels that elevate Steve Jobs above what we have seen in the past.
It’s 1984, Steve Jobs (Fassbender) is about to take the stage to launch the Macintosh Computer, but he can’t get it to say “hello.” His assistant Joanna Hoffman (Winslet), flurries around trying to calm her boss and sooth the egos of those he insults. Time is running out, and he tells buddy Andy Hertzfeld (Stuhlbarg) that if it doesn’t say hello then he will personally tell the entire auditorium who’s to blame. In 1988 Jobs was fired from Apple, after his expensive Macintosh tanked and he refused to promote the still successful Apple II. Soon after he launches his latest product aptly named NeXT [sic]. As the now world famous innovator readies to take the stage, his old Apple colleagues, including CEO John Scully (Daniels) arrive to make amends. By 1998 Jobs, back in charge of Apple, is about to deliver the iMac, and he finally comes to terms with the daughter he has denied fathering for years.
Fassbender has disappeared so far into the blue jean wearing, circular glasses role that it’s easily the best performance of his evolving career.
Steve Jobs might provide a claustrophobic feel, as the viewer never sees the outdoors. The entire film takes place at three of Job’s famous product launches, three 30 minute segments spread out over 15 years. The film is dialogue heavy from start to finish, a Sorkin’s specialty. Fassbender’s Jobs isn’t any more likable than when Noah Wyle or Ashton Kutcher played him, yet Sorkin’s script, based on the novel by Walter Issacson, helps us understand his madness, while making no excuses for him. Sorkin’s Jobs is ushered in and out of rooms, engages in multiple intersecting conversations, and often provokes hostile tempers; very similar to Michael Douglas’ character in The American President (which Sorkin also wrote). The editing is one of the most important elements and it’s never more impactful than a scene in the 1988 where Scully and Jobs have it out, cutting in flashbacks give weight to the argument.
Fassbender’s Jobs is similar to Meryl Streep’s Devil Wears Prada character. We wouldn’t want to be in a room with either, but love watching the effect they have on those around them. “We don’t have time to be polite,” Jobs says in one early scene. We see Jobs as equally manipulative as he was creative and by the time we get to 1998, Fassbender has disappeared so far into the blue jean wearing, circular glasses role that it’s easily the best performance of his evolving career. Even though Winslet’s Polish accent wavers, she gives a powerful, ever present performance, as the only one brave enough to stand up to the monster. The film never goes for emotion, flair or traditional storytelling, making Steve Jobs unique but also abrasive; not something you want to watch on repeat. Yet its award-worthy performances for the major roles and certainly Sorkin’s writing won’t go ignored.
Sorkin’s screenplay give the actors some of their best work.