Entertainment & Arts

Ashton Kutcher receives mixed reviews for Steve Jobs biopic

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Media captionHollywood actor Ashton Kutcher on playing Steve Jobs

Actor Ashton Kutcher has received mixed reviews for his portrayal of Steve Jobs in a biopic of the Apple founder, which premiered at the close of this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Jobs looks at Apple's origins in the 1970s, following its founder up to the launch of the first iPod in 2001.

The closing night awards ceremony saw wins for the dramatic movie Fruitvale and the documentary Blood Brother.

Both US titles picked up audience awards and grand jury prizes.

Jobs, released in US cinemas in April, covers the rise of the successful innovator and stars Josh Gad as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

The not always flattering drama shows Jobs withholding stock options from some of the company's original employees and denying child support to the mother of his eldest child.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, critic Sebastian Doggart said that while the story is "heroic", the "episodic [and] superficial" script "makes an almighty mess of it".

"Where the film completely falls down," Doggart continues, "is in director Joshua Michael Stern's disastrous decision to cast Ashton Kutcher in the central role.

"The poverty of his skills as a serious actor is on full display. His diction is incoherent. He clumsily signposts every emotion he thinks his character should feel."

Indiewire found Kutcher's performance to be "committed" and "certainly his most impressive turn in years, which conveys the character's focused, manipulative intentions in each calculated look".

However, reviewer Eric Cohn felt the film as a whole "plays it too safe".

"The movie is constantly at war with attempts to provide an honest portrayal, almost as if its subject were reaching beyond the grave to steer any negativity back in the direction of a hagiography."

Kutcher, 34, has said he considers Jobs his most personal film to date.

Attending the film's world premiere on Friday, he said playing Steve Jobs on screen was "honestly one of the most terrifying things I've ever tried to do in my life".

Image caption Apple founder Steve Jobs died in 2011 having suffered from cancer

Hollywood Reporter reviewer Justin Lowe commended Kutcher's performance, saying he "faithfully recreates some of his character's physical mannerisms" and managed a "fair imitation of Jobs' speaking style".

He described the film as "passably entertaining" but said it failed to "break any stylistic ground".

Variety critic Justin Chang concurred, saying the film "more or less embodies the sort of bland, go-with-the-flow creative thinking Jobs himself would have scorned".

He described Kutcher's performance as "carefully judged," but said "the illusion never fully seizes hold" despite "an impressive attempt at vocal mimicry".

Award winners

Fruitvale is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old who was shot and killed in a public transit station in Oakland, California in 2009.

Starring Octavia Spencer, who won the best supporting actress Oscar last year for her role in civil rights drama The Help, it was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Ryan Coogler.

"This project was about humanity, about human beings and how we treat each other; how we treat the people that we love the most, and how we treat the people that we don't know," said Coogler, 26.

Best documentary winner Blood Brother follows a young American, Rocky Braat, as he moves to India to work with orphans infected with HIV.

"This means so much to so many kids," said its director Steve Hoover of his film's awards.

Other winners on Saturday included Pussy Riot: a Punk Prayer, a film about Russia's feminist protest group, and The Summit, about the worst ever climbing disaster on K2.

Both films were part-funded by Storyville, BBC Four's international documentary strand.

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