Steve Jobs was ahead of his time and died before his time. During his time on earth, though, he proved to be one of the most influential individuals that ever lived. Given the astronomical contributions Jobs made to society, making a movie about him is no easy task. The 2013 biographical film staring Aston Kutcher is proof of that. If any screenwriter could do Jobs justice, however, it’s Aaron Sorkin.
Just as he did with Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Sorkin doesn’t pin down every little detail about Job’s life. Rather, Sorkin does something much more impressive. He pulls back the emerald curtain and provides a captivating character study. Even if Sorkin doesn’t get all the facts right, that’s not what’s most important. What is important is that Sorkin masterfully captures Job’s spirit in a film that appropriately thinks different.
Sorkin structures his exhilarating screenplay like a play in three acts. The first act sets itself before the launch of the Macintosh computer. While the Macintosh was certainly a crucial stepping-stone in tech evolution, it’s ironic that we remember Ridley Scott’s 1984 Super Bowl ad more than the computer itself. Where people at least remember the original Macintosh, most people have completely forgotten about the NeXT computer. Sorkin sets the second act of his screenplay before the launch of this hardware, which was really just another step towards the next big thing. Everything builds to Job’s launch of the iMac, which would lead to the iPods, iPhones, and iPads that currently dominate the world.
Of course Sorkin’s screenplay would be rendered useless without actors to bring his passionate dialog to life. Steve Jobs fortunately enlists a phenomenal ensemble, the standout being Michael Fassbender as Jobs himself. Fassbender, who gets better with every role he takes on, plays Jobs like a maestro conducting an orchestra. He’s a perfectionist who refuses to start a presentation late, even if the product being demonstrated isn’t finished.
Before every launch, Jobs finds himself bombarded by several key figures in his life. Jeff Daniels shines as John Sculley, Apple’s former CEO and father figure of sorts to Jobs. Seth Rogen gives one of his best dramatic performances as Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple and arguably the unsung genius behind the company. Kate Winslet deserves serious Best Supporting Actress consideration for her work as Joanna Hoffman, Apple’s marketing executive who knows Jobs better than anybody. They’re practically a married couple, although romance never enters the equation.
As Jobs jumps from conversation to conversation with his various colleagues, he constantly shuts the door on his neglected daughter, Lisa. Actually, Jobs is reluctant to even acknowledge Lisa as his offspring for the first several years of her life, although he does help financially support her mother (Katherine Waterston). Jobs views Apple as his true baby, dedicating all of his time and efforts into helping it grow. This is where the real heart of Steve Jobs lies, exploring a flawed man who ran as if he were a machine and his struggle to make a human connection.
Like Wozniak, Aaron Sorkin wrote the code for this movie. Like Jobs, however, it’s Director Danny Boyle who brings this movie to life through his vision. Boyle powers the film with kinetic energy and pitch perfect editing. Every second of his film encompasses the same commanding presence Jobs brought to a room whenever he walked on stage. As a backstage look into his life, Steve Jobs is as absorbing and ambitious as the man it’s based on.