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Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) - DVD Review

Steve Jobs

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DANNY Boyle and Aaron Sorkin take a bite out of Apple guru Steve Jobs in eye-catching fashion and duly provide Michael Fassbender with another stylish platform upon which to flex those enviable acting muscles.

In trying to offer an insight into the man behind the products, Steve Jobs eschews the normal characteristics of a biopic. Rather, it’s split into three key scenes, all of which take place behind-the-scenes of an imminent product launch.

Scene one unfolds in 1984 at the impending arrival of the Macintosh, as Jobs readies those around him, barking impossible orders, while simultaneously trying to defuse another confrontation with an ex lover over the daughter he insists he does not have. It’s a bravura opening: hectic, loud, verbose. And it sets the standard.

Fassbender monopolises every moment, whether being cruelly obnoxious, unexpectedly kind or ridiculously arrogant. In a few short minutes, he has established Jobs as a formidable force of nature: an egotistical genius but a fatally flawed human being.

Orbiting him are his long-suffering assistant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), striving to keep Jobs on some kind of humanitarian straight and narrow; Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg), the brilliant programmer tasked with fixing the unfixable and being abused for not being able to do so; Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak (Seth Rogen), another of Jobs’ key colleagues desperately seeking some recognition for past achievements; John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), his father-figure boss, and Lisa (played variously by Mackenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo and Perla Haney-Jardine), his increasingly estranged daughter struggling to win his admiration.

These characters remain throughout the next two chapters, which culminate in the successful launch of the iMac, but by that time a lot has happened and alliances have changed, with many licking their wounds.

It’s during this final chapter that Rogen’s Wozniak really comes into his own, drawing on the years of pent-up frustration to finally go toe to toe with Jobs. Thanks to Sorkin’s sharp script, the encounter exhilarates. And Rogen really does hold his own, making a seamless transition from the comedic to the dramatic (even tragic).

Strong, too, are Jobs’ scenes with Lisa, now played by Haney-Jardine, and which give the film it’s emotional heft. Their relationship is genuinely affecting and suitably complex. But crucially they afford viewers a glimpse of the vulnerability Jobs seldom exhibited. And Fassbender, once again, thrives on the intimacy they afford, and which come in stark contrast to some of his more explosive moments.

Boyle, for his part, deserves credit for turning what is essentially a three-act play perhaps better suited to a stage environment into something quite cinematic. The film doesn’t feel rigid or constrained. It zips along, fuelled by Sorkin’s sizzling dialogue, yet enhanced by the nuances afforded by Boyle’s direction. Hence, while Steve Jobs may not feel like a Boyle film for long stretches, it underlines the director’s ability to inject style into the most restrictive of settings (much like he did with 127 Hours).

Likewise, Sorkin – just as he did with Facebook film The Social Network – ensures there’s complexity and emotional depth in a film that could so easily have become lost amid the technology. Steve Jobs may have its flaws, much like the man, but it’s a gripping piece of wirk, well worthy of the acclaim surrounding it.

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Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 2mins
UK Blu-Ray & DVD Release: March 21, 2016