After the 2013 Ashton Kutcher-starring biopic Jobs, you may think the world does not need another film about the narcissist/genius. However, this new movie is in the best of hands with Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and writer Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) at the helm.
Sorkin's screenplay is essentially a three-act play that follows the rise and fall of the Apple mastermind at three different stages in his career as he launches new products. We are given a backstage pass to three major product launches; the Macintosh, Next (his strategic failure while in exile from Apple), and the iMac.
You will need to have your wits about you as Sorkin and Boyle don't waste their time with exposition. You are expected - but do not need to know the history - to keep up with evolving events as Jobs and his team come together, and sometimes fight with each other, to make a revolutionary change to personal computers. The dialogue - and there is a lot of it - is rapid, but it's so captivating that you won't ever find yourself drifting off. In fact, time flies by so quickly that you'll be surprised when the two hours are up.
Don't worry if you are not big on technical or corporate jargon because it plays second fiddle to the piercing look at Jobs' relationships with the four most important people in his life: his 'work wife' and Apple right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet); Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen); Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) and Jobs' daughter Lisa (played by Makenzie Moss at age five, Ripley Sobo at age nine and Perla Haney-Jardine at 19).
While these might be the most important relationships in Jobs' life, they are laden with conflict and trust issues. Jobs flits between drawing people close to him and then shutting them out when he struggles with his own identity as father, friend and business partner.
While Michael Fassbender may not physically resemble Jobs, he is simply stunning as the complex tech master. He skilfully presents Jobs as a humorous and engaging person in one moment and in the blink of an eye turns him into a conflicted, arrogant and obnoxious tyrant.
Winslet plays Jobs' closest confidante, Polish-Armenian Joanna Hoffman (her accent is subtle and brilliant). She is the only person that is able to bring Jobs back from the brink when his own ego and insecurities send him into a tailspin. Their bickering explodes onto the screen and is both emotional and exhilarating. Hoffman also provides the link between Jobs' personal and professional life as she urges him to first acknowledge that he is a father and then to be a better one.
One thing to bear in mind is that this is not the complete Steve Jobs story; it is an intense snapshot at three key moments in his life, both professionally and personally. While there are no childhood vignettes or scenes that hint at Jobs' death in 2011 at the age of 56 from a rare form of cancer, Sorkin has done a tremendous job stripping back his life without losing any of his complexities. He masterfully gets right to the heart of the type of person Jobs was.
Steve Jobs is a magnificent movie. The writing, acting and direction triumphantly combine to tell an absorbing and intense story about a man whose tunnel vision and drive transformed the way we live our lives today.