‘Steve Jobs’ portrays the man as a flawed yet brilliant innovator; a salesman who wants employees to meet his expectation, a creative and artistic mind obsessed about product design.
Starring Michael Fassbender as Jobs, the movie is structured in a three-act play, each one focusing on a pivotal product launch: the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT aka The Cube in 1988, and the iMac in 1998, and each preceded by flashbacks or a series of TV and news montage.
Just before Jobs goes on stage for each product launch, we see him confronted by his flaky ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterstone) and Lisa, a daughter he initially claims is not his, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Apple CEO John Scully who orchestrated Jobs’s firing, original Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld; and on each occasion his exasperated marketing executive Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) supports him and tries to keep everything on track amid all such distractions that seem to appear before Jobs at worst possible time.
The film’s structure is an interesting approach but for this same reason the characterization of the title character feels unsatisfying and uneven; his history of being an adopted son is not fully explored, his professional history with Wozniak is missing, the movie’s allusion to the invention of iPad near the end as Jobs reason with his daughter’s use of portable cassette player feels tacky, among others. Although an inherent challenge to the filmmakers given the amount of recent portrayals of the character, the end result lacks new insight on Jobs.
The movie does hits its peak in the third act, set in 1988 before the product launch of iMac as Jobs make amends with his daughter. It is also here when we see Fassbender fully embody the character, looking a lot like Job’s iconic contemporary figure, and it is entertaining to watch.
Aaron Sorkin’s script is a riveting, funny and engaging behind the scenes look on Steve Jobs right before the product launches; though not as smart, purposeful nor meaningful as his work on The Social Network.
The movie is rated R for profanity.