Beginning in 2001 at the Apple staff meeting where Jobs introduces the “insanely cool” iPod, the scene jumps back to 1974 to tell, in chronological order, the story: Steve at Reed College, a trip to India, working for Atari and then with the brilliant Steve Wozniak in that legendary garage, hiring the first three employees, securing investment money from Mike Markulla, and becoming as “cool” as any company dreams. Steve stumbles when he recommends hiring Pepsi marketing expert John Sculley, what Steve “the worst mistake of my life.”
Hemorrhaging money, pushing for innovation “we can’t even imagine,” the Apple tale unfolds with many tense confrontations in the boardroom.
Throughout “Jobs,” the greatly flawed genius takes center stage, so obsessively single-minded he indulges a cruel narcissism with girlfriends and colleagues alike, alienating those he drives to seek perfection. As Jobs, Ashton Kutcher pulls off a high wire balancing act, making Steve appealing and appalling in equal measure. Kutcher has Jobs’ walk, the quick anger, and the wily and witty persona from youth to adulthood.
Director Stern impressively stages hostile encounters, letting tension hang in the air, using close-ups with precision. Kutcher makes the most of them with alert eyes that take the measure of adversaries and friends alike. In supporting roles, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons and others contribute superb performances.
The art direction is equally magnificent: the garage vs. the corporate environment, the cold boardroom vs. colorful India and warm fields of grain. The sound stays out of the way while adding ambiance, and the camerawork interprets mood—impatience as well as quiet tension. While no two-hour film can sum up this man, “Jobs” offers a wonderfully entertaining experience focused on, as Jobs says, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” At area cinemas.