FILM REVIEW: Fassbender Outshines Sorkin, Supporting Cast in ‘Steve Jobs’

Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs is one of the most hotly-anticipated films this fall. The screenplay from Aaron Sorkin presents him as inhumane in scene after scene until they humanize him in the end. It was as if Cersei Lannister had finally captured Jon Snow then suddenly released and married him on the spot. Sorkin gleefully contributes to the absurdity of this film by structuring the story as a series of coincidences that defy reason. Even though Sorkin and Director Danny Boyle adapted the authorized biography Walter Isaacson wrote while Jobs was still alive, Steve Jobs doesn’t fill you in on Steve Jobs the man but more on what other people perceived him to be. They portray Jobs as a control freak of epic proportions and it takes place on the days of three product launches: The Macintosh in 1984, the next “black cube” computer, and finishes with the launch of iMac.

During each of these launches, he interacts with the same group of people and treats them like garbage each time. Andy Hertzfeld ( Micheal Stuhlbarg) is mercilessly belittled, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak ( Seth Rogan) is constantly ignored, and Apple board chairman John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) is constantly dismissed as being insignificant. His former girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) keeps demanding money and wants him to acknowledge the daughter he fathered. Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), the marketing director, seems to be the only person who can call Jobs out and get him to do the “right thing.” They all realize at one point or another that he’s a horse’s ass but he must be endured because he makes money for Apple. One can only wonder how someone can be so right about technology can be so utterly clueless when it comes to dealing with people.

Steve Jobs

The film is a typhoon of dialogue as it swirls between these different product launches in Jobs’ life. When Jobs finally realizes that he had screwed up his relationship with his daughter, it’s this epiphany of imperfection that allows him to finally begin to mend broken fences.

Steve Jobs is far from a perfect film. The film is rife with dialogue, but there comes a point where you cross the line into verbosity and this film eclipses that line. It was if Aaron Sorkin wanted to cram every conversation Job’s ever had into a Two Hour gab fest. It’s an episode of Newsroom but on steroids. Less could have certainly been more.

Micheal Fassbender dominates Steve Jobs with a presence that just fills the theater. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the title role because he embraces that role as the ego-driven Jobs in such a way that the audience both loves when he comes on screen and hates basically everything that comes out of his mouth. Daniels, Winslet, and Rogen all are on screen to serve the purpose of the Yang to Fassbender’s Ying. None of those three particularly stand out because they are so overshadowed by Fassbender’s electric work.

This movie has the potential to be a top contender for all the major awards, but line after line of dialogue weighs down the film and doesn’t allow the actors to act. Maybe Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle should have taken a page out of Apple’s playbook and thought differently.

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.