What an amazing piece of work. This isn’t constructed as a typical movie. Instead, it’s a series of revealing episodes, taking us backstage before three major product launches. In every case, it’s Jobs (Fassbender) berating and bullying everyone to achieve his view of perfection. “Artists lead,” he insists. “Hacks ask for a show of hands.” Those who contend that Steve Jobs never said those actual words – or most of the others in this dialog-heavy movie — are missing the point; this is not about the words he spoke; it’s about the kind of flawed genius he was. And this captures his genius in a way that’s often enlightening, mostly infuriating, always compelling. But above all, intensely entertaining. This is an Aaron Sorkin-written movie and, as usual, there’s a sense of urgency to every conversation. Most scripts are about 120 pages; this one ran close to 200. People are always talking, sometimes simultaneously.
And they’re usually also doing something else. The camera’s role – and ours – is to look on, listen in, try to keep pace. We’re drinking from a fire hose. The story is less concerned with chronology than it is with character – his and those few others who influenced his life. He treats them all poorly. “You can be gifted and decent at the same time,” Woz tells Jobs at one point in this story. It was a truth he ignored until the end. If Jobs never becomes likeable, Fassbender makes him endlessly fascinating. It’s a whirling Oscar-worthy performance filled with relentless energy and raw brilliance; and there is as much brilliance in the filmmaking as there was in the man. Danny Boyle — who made “Slumdog Millionaire” – directs — and drives — it with a sense of style and energy down a winding path of flashbacks and projections, of rowdy crowds and lonely silences, to an ending that, for Jobs, was a better beginning. We leave him at the launch of iMac in 1998, with an ad campaign that encouraged: “Think Different.” The fact that both Jobs — and Boyle – did, results in a movie that, so far, is my favorite of the year.