Steve Jobs ★★★½

"Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra." ~ Steve Jobs

Although this biopic is based upon Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of the late, great Apple Computer entrepreneur, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle managed to distill the essence of the man as a cinematic three-act play. It covers 14 years from the launch of the Macintosh in 1984 to the introduction of the iMac in 1998, with emphasis on Jobs' complex emotional and intellectual make-up and the handful of important personal relationships in his life.

I was initially a bit surprised at how little actor Michael Fassbender resembled Jobs, but by the end of the film I was convinced he had embodied the man much better than Ashton Kutcher did in "Jobs" (2013). This performance gives us all the humanity that went missing in that earlier docudrama, so although this is not as extensive as a biography, it is much more intensive as a character study, and I liked that.

I also thought Seth Rogen turned in his best performance ever as Steve Wozniak. Jeff Daniels offers a fine portrayal as former Pepsico executive John Sculley, and Michael Stuhlbarg is a sturdy version of nerdy programmer Andy Hertzfeld, while Kate Winslet manages to look homely and act superbly as Jobs' righthand "man" of marketing Joanna Hoffman.

Where this story goes that no other treatment of the subject has dared is Jobs' tempestuous relationship with his former lover Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) and her daughter Lisa. Indeed, it is how he relates to Lisa at three different stages of their lives that defines the narrative structure of this film. When Lisa Brennan is five years old (Makenzie Moss) and the original Mac is poised to fail, he denies his paternity. When she's nine (Ripley Sobo) and he's competing against Apple with NeXT, money is the only bond between father and daughter. And the reconciliation of parent-child when she's 19 (Perla Haney-Jardine) coincides with his reinstatement as Apple CEO.

Boyle was so clever in his construction of this film, he actually shot the three sections using different equipment -- 16mm, 35mm and digital -- to show the progress of technology. He also uses a walk-and-talk style of filming behind the scenes at the three venues, which gave this something of a "Birdman" (2014) feel. Very clever indeed.

Both Fassbender and Winslet received Oscar nominations for their roles here. Winslet won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress, while Sorkin took home a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. This is the kind of film that almost demands a second viewing. The dialog is dense with references to computer history and corporate relationships, so I think I'll need to do some serious research prior to a rewatch.

TajLV liked these reviews