It is commonly agreed that Steve Jobs was a genius. He was also a very complicated and difficult person. Most geniuses are. Where do you begin to try and understand someone who literally changed everyone’s life with his technological creations?
Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant script tries within the structure of a three act play. Each act depicts a different product launch and the frantic 30 minutes or so backstage before the curtain goes up. The first act is the launch of the Mac in 1984. The second act is the launch of the NeXT computer after Jobs left Apple to form a new company in 1988. The third act takes place in 1998 with the triumphant return of Jobs as Apple’s CEO and the unveiling of the IMac. We see Jobs interact with his right hand woman and confident, Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), the first CEO of Apple, his friend and later to be nemesis, John Scully (Jeff Daniels), his former girlfriend, Chrisanne and her daughter, Lisa, who Jobs refuses to acknowledge as his daughter as well, Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), a lead member of the original Mac team and of course, Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), his friend and co-founder of Apple.
Anyone who’s watched The West Wing or seen The Social Network will recognize Sorkin’s style, characters in constant motion while delivering smart, quick and witty dialogue. These actors deliver wonderful performances, you can tell they are relishing delivering these lines and want to make the most of the opportunity. Michael Fassbender may not look like Steve Jobs but he fully transforms into him and he commands the screen. If you only know him from the X Men movies you need to check out Shame, 12 Years A Slave and Inglorious Basterds. He’s been doing good work for awhile now and is poised to really take off with this film. Kate Winslet is strong as Hoffman, pulling a ‘Streep’ by affecting a subtle polish accent. Jeff Daniels already having mastered Sorkin’s linguistic pretzel dialogue from working on The Newsroom also excels. Seth Rogen! He’s great! He’s playing Wozniak but he’s still Seth Rogen and like Fassbender, he doesn’t look like ‘The Woz’ but he gets his ‘essence’ and delivers a vulnerable performance. I have to say, my least favorite part about the trailer was Jobs screaming “she’s not my daughter!”. It seemed forced. But watching the film you realize this storyline is the most important, of course, and ultimately, very moving.
Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) does a fine job, scaling back his usual visual flair and following Sorkin’s lead by delivering a pulse pounding drama driven by fine actors delivering the most delicious lines of dialogue. I was blown away by the script and the story structure. Nothing is wasted. Every line has significance and meaning, sometimes more than one. It’s a beautiful tapestry, storytelling at its finest. Before The Hunger Games, Bond and Star Wars demand your attention do yourself as favor and check out this gem. It’s an action movie for the mind.