‘Steve Jobs’: A look inside the tumultuous mind of genius

By Bob Bloom

“Steve Jobs’ ” greatest asset is also the movie’s biggest problem.

As written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, Jobs can be admired as a genius, innovator and visionary. But at the same time, he can be despised as a human being.

Michael Fassbender portrays Jobs as self-centered, petty, a bully and someone who treats nearly all people with contempt and disdain.

Jobs freely admits that he does not like people because they are flawed — accepting his own shortcomings, but intolerant of others’.

Therefore, we have a movie in which the main protagonist is an unlikable twit, who, despite a brilliant mind, has no social graces and is basically antisocial.

This creates a problem for the audience as they are likely to keep Jobs at an emotional arm’s length.

“Steve Jobs” is not so much a biopic as it is a portrait of a manically driven individual during three crucial phases of his career.

The first is in 1984, marking the launch of the Macintosh; the second is in 1988 — after the Apple board fired Jobs — in which Jobs introduce the Next and the third is in 1998, marking the debut of the iMac.

During all three sections, the important people in Jobs’ life come into the picture, including Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ put-upon assistant; Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, his partner in developing the first Apple; and Jeff Daniels as Apple CEO John Sculley.

It is Fassbender, though, who drives the movie. His performance is masterful. His Jobs is hateful, an impatient and condescending individual who, for several years, refuses to recognize and support his own daughter.

But he also becomes self-aware, admitting during a reconciliation with his now young-adult offspring that he is “poorly made.”

Yes, Jobs is a monstrous, demanding bastard. And, to his credit, Fassbender does not attempt to make him sympathetic. He dares, no, compels you to accept Jobs as he is because his is the mind that has reshaped the way we live and work.

“Steve Jobs” lacks nuances and complexities. Sorkin has sketched a simplified version of the man. The few clues we get to Jobs’ past is that he was abandoned and rejected as an infant. Otherwise, Sorkin does not go too deep under Jobs skin to learn what other factors shaped his persona.

The film is an uncompromising picture of an arrogant and compulsive man who saw things others didn’t and drove them relentlessly and mercilessly to catch up with his vision.

“Steve Jobs” is compelling drama that celebrates intensity and individualism, while doggedly displaying the emotional price others must pay for one man’s single-mindedness and self-absorption.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

3 stars out of 4
(R), language

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