Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen
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Among the recent films centred on Apple’s late CEO, Steve Jobs is the best. Penned superbly by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Moneyball), and directed with flair and ingenuity by Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs humanises and presents rather ambivalently the personal and professional life of Jobs (Michael Fassbender) in three tightly wound acts, set at product launches in 1984, 1988, and 1998.
The three theatrical “backstage” acts heighten the sense of emotion in the film. Sorkin has written a clever biographical character study that feels urgent, without skimming on details. This is delivered via Sorkin’s trademark dialogue. Like Jobs’ tumultuous career, conversations change direction and tone just as quickly, as a friendly exchange can spiral into bitterness and hate. The best exchanges come between Jobs and former Apple CEO, John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), as their relationship skirts between father figure, business advisor, and vicious adversary.
Boyle’s direction is solid, keeping what is essentially a three-act play lively with visuals and tracking shots. As an added touch, DOP, Alwin H. Kuchler (Sunshine), films each period in different film stock (16mm, 35mm, and digital) to exemplify the advancement of Apple’s technology throughout the period. While this can add to the self-aggrandising of the product, Sorkin digs deeper into what made Jobs loved and hated by so many. Surprisingly, the emotional pull of the film lies in Jobs’ relationships with the central females in his life – his faithful head of marketing, Joanna Hoffman (a wonderful Kate Winslet), his one-time partner and mother of his child, Chrisann (Katherine Waterson), and his daughter (played by a different actress in each period). With a tremendous cast, a great script, and solid direction, Steve Jobs carefully balances capitalistic exaltation with Jobs’ more humanised flaws, brought to the screen in equal parts dazzle and heartbreak.