In 1984, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) unveiled the MacIntosh, changing the computer world forever. But behind the scenes in Cupertino, California, there’s turmoil. Read on...
Apple tech genius Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), Jobs’ friend/collaborator, and CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) have serious issues, while Jobs’ trusted marketing chief, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), calmly wrangles monetary demands by Jobs’ ex-girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston), the mother of his illegitimate daughter Lisa.
Four years later, after Jobs’ ouster from Apple, there’s another obsessive “product launch” crisis as Jobs arrogantly presents his NeXT Black Box, followed by his return to Apple, introducing the iMac in 1998.
Within this fragmentary “backstage” framework, Michael Fassbender (“Shame,” “12 Years a Slave”) embodies the relentlessness of Steve Jobs, subtly revealing not only how he coldly views the world through a “reality distortion field,” but also how he ruthlessly bullies those around him, particularly when he’s under stress.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network,” TV’s “Newsroom” & “West Wing”) and director Danny Boyle (“127 Hours,” “Slumdog Millionaire”) cleverly create a complex, dialogue-driven character study, based on Walter Isaacson’s bestseller, coupled with obviously fictionalized encounters.
Significantly, Sorkin was able to interview Jobs’ daughter, who did not participate in the creation of Isaacson’s profile. And it’s Jobs’ relationship with Lisa that serves to humanize him, particularly when he discovers that his chief engineer, Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), paid her $25,000 Harvard tuition.
As the years unfold, Lisa is played by Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Perla Haney-Jardine.
Unlike a traditional biography, there are only patchy mentions of Jobs’ adoption, childhood rejection and pioneering, formative years – and its chronology stops before the birth of the now-ubiquitous iPhone or Jobs’ ill-fated battle with cancer, leading to his death at age 56.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Steve Jobs” is a kinetic, enigmatic 8. It’s extraordinary entertainment, eminently suitable for its iconic, yet inscrutable subject.