Steve Jobs

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Dir Danny Boyle 122 mins, opens Thu Jan 14

Steve Jobs the man was an astonishingly successful genius. He was also a megalomaniac who never let anything so wimpy as other people’s feelings stand in his way. Steve Jobs the film also suffers a little from split personality. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin outdoes his work on The Social Network with an even sharper and more savage script about a tech visionary whose genius threatens to corrupt his ethics. But while director Danny Boyle tries to stay out of sight, he occasionally fails.

The film divides into three acts, each set backstage before a product launch. The first and most flawlessly scripted is set in 1984 during the half hour before the unveiling of the first Macintosh computer. Michael Fassbender plays Jobs like a coiled snake whose tail never stops rattling. He’s too ripped to be a believable geek in this early section, but his single-mindedness grows more convincing with every fast-paced line of dialogue. 

During the 30 minutes he spends obsessively trying to get his prototype to say ‘Hello’ during the keynote speech, Jobs denies being the father of his daughter and lights the verbal matches that will eventually burn his relationships with his boss (Jeff Daniels), his colleague (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his brainiac best friend, Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen). Perhaps his most rewarding confrontations are with the marketing manager (Kate Winslet – brilliant) who effectively doubles as his conscience. 

The second section jumps to 1988, as Jobs launches his doomed NeXT Computer, while the third and final act leaps a decade down the road for the debut of the iMac. By this time, Fassbender has become the spitting image of the Jobs. Alas, even Fassbender’s miraculous performance can’t save director Boyle – perhaps too good-natured for this story. After nearly two hours of keeping his sentimental impulses at bay, he finishes with a dallop of well-meaning schmaltz. David Ehrlich

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