A review of the 2015 bio-pic “Steve Jobs”

In the past few years, there have been two major movies about the life of tech entrepreneur Steve Jobs, the creative genius behind Apple.

The first in 2013 was called simply “Jobs” and starred Ashton Kutcher in the title role. The second in 2015 went for the title “Steve Jobs” and Michael Fassbender filled the eponymous role. Both films have at their emotional core the expulsion of Jobs from Apple in 1985 and his triumphant return in 1996, but the later work builds the narrative around three pressured product launches – the Apple Mac in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988, and the iMac in 1998- with flash-backs to seminal moments in the man’s turbulent career.

The second film is much the better one. It has a more accomplished director in the British Danny Boyle rather than Joshua Michael Stern. It has a much more creative writer in Aaron Sorlkin – the man behind “The West Wing” and the writer of “The Social Network” – compared to first-timer Matt Whitely. And the Irish Fassbender is just so much more impressive than Kutcher.

Indeed there are some excellent performances in support roles too, including Seth Rogen (as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak), Jeff Daniels (as Apple chairman John Sculley), and Michael Stuhlbarg (as senior team member Andy Hertzfeld). Another thespian strength of the movie is that it has a pivotal role for a woman, the wonderful Kate Winslet, as long-suffering – but loyal yet defiant – marketing executive Joanna Hoffman, plus a support role for Katherine Watertown as the mother of Jobs’ daughter whom he originally treated appallingly.

Like “The Social Network”, “Steve Jobs” is a wordy work but Sorkin is a master craftsman of dialogue with fast and furious exchanges that communicate so much about events and character. And the actors revel in the kinetic energy of the script and direction with Fassbender rarely off the screen in one bruising encounter after another. Fassbender may not look as similar to Jobs as Kutcher but he totally occupies the role and makes the movie.


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