(Danny Boyle, 2015)
In Steve Jobs, director Danny Boyle mostly stays out of the way. This is writer Aaron Sorkin's movie, and Boyle is wise enough to realise that and attempt a just-subtly-stylish-enough film version of a Sorkin script that plays way theatrical, with its 3 locations, its artificially tightened timeframes and its triple echo three act structure. So no hyperactive editing or wild camera angles. Mostly just nicely shot talking heads in well-blocked, intelligently-framed scenes.
The performances, then, take much of the weight. The story focuses on Jobs (Michael Fassbender) at three crucial moments in his life: in 1984, in the minutes before the public launch of the Macintosh. In 1988, after Jobs has been fired from Apple and is about to launch the Black Box for his own company, Next. And in 1998, as he launches the iMac.
Each sequence is shot on different stock, set backstage at a different event centre, as Jobs jousts with his marketing executive and "work wife" Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), meets his old friend and colleague Steve "Woz" Wozniak (Seth Rogen), banters with engineer Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) and deals with Apple CEO John Scully (Jeff Daniels). All this while preparing to face hundreds of people and the worlds media. And dealing with Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterson) the mother of his child, and with the child herself, as a cute 5 year old, needy 9 year old, and complex, wounded teen.
Sorkin's script portrays Jobs as a difficult egomaniac who is worth it; he's a genius. And Fassbender nails that - intelligence bubbling beneath his face, impatient and baffled by people, always rushing towards the future he feels like only he sees. Winslet and he share a few emotional scenes, but the biggest and best confrontations are with a raw Woz, demanding some recognition for his generation of engineers and telling Jobs without hesitation how much of an asshole he is, and Rogen is terrific. Just as good is Jeff Daniels, moving from fatherly to antagonistic to regretful over the course of the film.
For his part, Jobs changes. He begins believing he's right, and ends up absolutely certain of it. along the way he might just learn a bit about people, or at least himself.
Theatrical yes. But that is not a problem with actors like these saying words like this.