A hurricane of words pouring off the screen in “Steve Jobs.” Words delivered with breathtaking intensity by Michael Fassbender in the title role. The tech speak is dense here, but the fervor with which the words are delivered is more character-defining than the mere content of the words themselves.
The words written by Aaron Sorkin and delivered by Fassbender define Jobs as brilliant, egomaniacal, intensely focused and cruel. And one more thing: unceasingly fascinating. Fassbender may not look like Jobs, and certainly Sorkin and director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Milllionaire”) have taken liberties with the facts of the late Apple magnate’s life. Boyle himself conceded this in an interview in which he said Sorkin envisioned the picture as an “impressionistic portrait” made up of events, some real, some imagined. That’s the nature of biopics.
What raises “Steve Jobs” way above the level of most biopics is the totality of Fassbender’s immersion into the character, creating the portrait of a flawed and driven man whose sheer forcefulness of will is such that no one with whom he interacts can diminish his single-minded focus on getting what he wants in almost every situation.
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Visually sumptuous, the movie plays out in three acts: behind the scenes at the launch of the Macintosh, The NeXT and the iMac. Liberally employing flashbacks, the major issues in Jobs’ life are deftly revealed.
Fassbender’s performance stands out, but the other actors nearly rise to his level. Jeff Daniels as Apple CEO John Sculley and Seth Rogen as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak do fine work as two men who come into conflict with Jobs and come out losers.
Only Macintosh marketing chief Joanna Hoffman consistently stands up to him, and in that role Kate Winslet is terrific, fearlessly pushing back and calling Jobs out on his often heartless behavior, especially toward his daughter, Lisa, whom he repeatedly refuses to acknowledge as his child, though she is. The snap-crackling interplay of Fassbender and Winslet is the heart of “Steve Jobs.”
5 stars out of 5
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogan.
Director: Danny Boyle.
Running time: 2:02.
Rated: R, for language.