Full credit to Aaron Sorkin; with Steve Jobs he manages to solve the structural problems plaguing most biopics, which struggle to accommodate the scope of a human life in a neat three act narrative. How? By literally structuring the film as three acts – three product launches – across which we come to know our subject.
Michael Fassbender plays Jobs with all the depth and forcefulness you’d expect; while I kinda wish he’d step outside his charming-but-nefarious/megalomaniacal wheelhouse, he undeniably does good work in there. His supporting cast – Winslet, Rogen, Waterston, Daniels – all take to the script’s supremely Sorkin-esque dialogue with similar confidence.
Director Danny Boyle isn’t as suited to the West Wing scribe’s predilections. Boyle’s bombastic, restless depiction of the Apple co-founder’s schemes and struggles inadvertently reveals the limitations of the screenplay. One can forgive the oft-clumsy exposition as a structural shortcoming, the insistence of the dialogue to always be about The Steve Jobs is exhausting.
As a nuanced character study, Steve Jobs fails; too much explained, too little implied. When the film delves into interpersonal drama – which is remarkably often – it succeeds as a showcase for good old fashioned theatrical excess. This ain’t an iPhone, but it’s no Newton, either.