The mythology of Steve Jobs continues in a rather flashy and hurried manner that manages to convey a far more adequate amount of truth in its creative-non-fiction than its predecessor, the Ashton Kutcher vehicle, JOBS. That said, this version of the difficult, mildly misanthropic, mega-maniac (he’s also genius) utilizes some of the same hyper-kinetic repetitious style that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarrit put into BIRDMAN: Characters wander backstage belting out Aaron Sorkin’s trademark breathless dialogue while cleverly avoiding the payoff of an on-stage performance. Describing Jobs as a misanthrope is arguably misleading and inaccurate considering the man was driven by how much the computer could advance humankind; there is clearly something altruistic in wanting to advance everyone’s place in the world.
Director Danny Boyle segments the film into 3 acts – each set at a critical career point moments before stepping on stage. We know Jobs to be an unlikable person – that much has been made clear in biographies and personal testaments from people close to him. (A colleague tells me a story about sitting beside a close associate of Jobs on a plane and how that person was unable to contain their deep-rooted anger towards the man). STEVE JOBS, the film, manages to sufficiently convey its subject’s complicated sense of entitlement, confidence, indifference and single-mindedness. And yet this was a man not without charisma. Michael Fassbender – who jokingly said he studied “Ashton Kutcher” before taking on the role (I assume it was a joke) – does a masterful job of delivering a character who forfeits certain, almost universal, humanistic values to ensure the creation and development of his product. Fassbender’s performance is flawless; a seamless presentation of a man driven by his vision of a world made better because of the computer. And there is collateral damage in the course of seeking out that vision – and here steps in Lisa, his off-again/on-again daughter played in three parts of her life by Makenzie Moss when Lisa is 5, Ripley Sobo when she is 9, and Perla Haney-Jardine as Lisa at 19. STEVE JOBS is at its most dramatic and heart-wrenching in the first act with Jobs unable to accept Lisa as his daughter, unable to understand the painful effect his denial has on a 5 year-old. It seems Jobs is even worse dealing with children than he is with adults. Katherine Waterson plays Lisa’s distraught, unstable mother who’s life moves from desperation to frustration before getting lost in self-pity and neglect. Kate Winslet plays Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ work-wife who manages not only Jobs’ schedule, temperament, and press but also his conscience. Other main characters in the Apple mythology – Steve Wozniak and John Sculley – are played consecutively by Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels.
The film seems at times to be purposefully frustrating – never taking us away from the antics behind the scenes. And Sorkin’s trademark walk-and-talk has lost some of its momentum as a unique and vibrant way to deliver a dialogue driven film and still keep things moving. But over-all, STEVE JOBS is filled with great performances delivering power-driven dialogue that keeps the audience riveted.