Aaron Sorkin is a super well-known writer and I like him whenever I see him interviewed, yet, when I look at his body of work, I’ve hardly seen any of it. The West Wing is the big one; something I believe I’d enjoy if I sat down and watched the bloody thing, but I’ve never found myself in a position to.
So recently when, apropos of nothing, I was thinking about the time two Steve Jobs biopics came out and I believe I’d seen a little of the Ashton Kutcher vehicle, Jobs, but none of the Michael Fassbender vehicle, Steve Jobs, I decided to grab the discs for cheap on eBay, and watch them once and for all.
Steve Jobs is the Sorkin-penned, Danny Boyle directed of the two films, and at first I wasn’t sure I liked it. Fassbender’s take on Jobs isn’t to look like him, but he does an alright version of sounding like him. And, in what I believe is typical of Sorkin, the film is basically a lot of people spitting fast dialogue at each other, often as they walk around. Indeed, my wife told me the next day that the rapid-fire lines seemed angsty to her, sitting in her study while I watched the film, and was getting quite annoying.
Over the course of the movie, however, I started to get it. The piece is set behind the scenes of Jobs making a big announcement; first at the 1984 Mac launch, then the 1988 Next Computer launch, and finally the 1998 iMac launch are the settings. Although it’s a real stretch to believe that the same people showed up, backstage, before each event to neatly reiterate the themes which make up the Steve Jobs story, if you suspend a little disbelief, it actually makes for a great three-part structure.
Weirdly, by the time we get to the iMac, Fassbender actually starts to look like Jobs. I don’t think this is a trick of the film, finally convincing you that he is Jobs, I think it has more to do with the trademark, almost uniform, sort of look that Jobs had by that stage in his life. The jeans, the white sneakers, the black turtleneck, the John Lennon glasses. You put those on a thin guy with short brown hair, doing Jobs’ voice, and the effect is uncanny. The same guy with longer hair and a suit, earlier in the film, seems as unlike Jobs as you can get. In a weird way, it shows the power and overall effect of that look.
I might be giving the impression I liked the film and, yes, when I got to the end, I felt that I’d come on a journey with the character(s), and there was a decent enough upswing, right at the end, to make all the angst and people yelling at each other worthwhile. But it’s that angst, yelling, etc, that my wife picked up from – while sitting in another room playing her computer – that is absolutely there, too. I wouldn’t recommend putting this on as a nice sort of chill-out film on a Friday night. This is people talking – intensely – for the whole film. You need to be really ‘on’ and ready for it to hammer into you.