REVIEW: Latest Steve Jobs biopic thrills

by Chris Sanchez

sanchezch@mnstate.edu

Most people know the story of Steve Jobs. The mogul of technology, the brilliant and enigmatic Apple co-founder is once again the topic of a film.

“Steve Jobs” is the third film depicting the controversial figure, but it is not what most would call the typical biopic. Director Danny Boyle (Oscar-winning director of “Slumdog Millionaire” & “127 Hours”) and Aaron Sorkin (Oscar winning screenwriter of “The Social Network”) instead structure the film as a three-act play, each chronicles the launches of new Apple products. Each of these acts shows different periods of Apple as company, as well as the chances in man pulling the strings.

The film captures the essence of time by filming each act in different film formats. Starting in 1985, Act I is filmed in 16 mm. Act II, which takes place a few years later was filmed in 35 mm. The last act, which takes place 10 years later, was filmed in the digital formatting that were used to seeing today.

In this version, Michael Fassbender plays the iconic Jobs, and the film opens with minutes away from the launch of the first Macintosh computer. From the start, you already get the sense of how much of a control freak this guy is. He’s demanding and constantly venting to his assistant and financial advisor Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet, nearly unrecognizable) while dealing with his ex-lover (Katherine Waterson.) This is just the beginning of the journey of the once proclaimed “genius.”

As the film goes on, we see an engaging and often unsympathetic look of the highs and lows of Jobs. This journey expands 14 years, long enough to see the evolution of Apple and how it changed its maker, for better or for worse. Boyle keeps the film moving swiftly, with a script by Sorkin that snaps, crackles and pops like Rice Krispies.  Yes, this is a talking heads film, but there’s passion and emotion flowing through the dialogue. And the actors handle it with skill and precision.

Fassbender may not physically resemble Jobs, but he’s still a magnetic force on screen. Don’t let his casual appearance of blue jeans and black turtle neck sweater fool you, this guy doesn’t screw around. His performance will likely be a lock for a best actor nomination, and rightfully so. Another likely nod is Winslet, who pulls off a Polish accent skillfully and gets some of the best scenes of the film. There’s a particular scene in which she confronts Jobs that’s as powerful as anything you’ll witness on screen this year. There’s a reason why she’s one of our finest actresses today.

The other supporting players in the film include a surprising turn from Seth Rogen as Job’s longtime friend and co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Jeff Daniels as the CEO of Apple when Jobs was voted out of the position temporarily.

For those who are expecting an exposé or a fully realized portrait of Jobs might leave some viewers cold. “Steve Jobs” is less of a biopic than a psychological yarn of the man, the myth, and maybe the legend in his own right. Like any film based on a non-fictional figure, there’s probably a fine line between fact and fiction being displayed here. Nevertheless, whatever liberties were taken here, the ending result is one of the year’s most exciting, thrilling and compelling dramas. What else can audiences really ask for?  After all, this is the reason  we go to the movies, right?

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