Steve Jobs ★★★★

In more ways than one, Steve Jobs bucks the trends in contemporary popular feature film. It is not the film of Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, and it is not scenery-chewing Oscar bait for its A-list stars; it is clearly writer Aaron Sorkin's film. Razor sharp dialogue is the driver of this piece, with all other elements seated comfortably in the back. And Sorkin has completely eschewed the tick-the-box approach that generally defines the biopic genre and instead commits to an even more traditional narrative structure - the three act play. Set backstage at three seminal computer launches (with Boyle rendering the 1984 Macintosh in 16mm, the 1988 NeXT in 35mm, and the 1998 iMac in digital), the vibe of Steve Jobs is closer to Birdman (2014) than the last tech-god blockbuster that Sorkin penned, The Social Network (2010).

We already have an inevitably futile attempt at a comprehensive docudrama of Jobs' life, Jobs (2013); Sorkin is going for character study, which, in the precious little time afforded by this medium, requires less of a reverence for the facts and more of an imagining of the complexity of Jobs' essential humanity as a "closed system." The actors follow suit, with Michael Fassbender in particular choosing to channel, rather than imitate, the enigmatic figure (much like Anthony Hopkins in Nixon (1995)). Ostensibly, Sorkin drew from the authorized biography by Walter Isaacson; but there are only five characters with whom Jobs interacts in each of Sorkin's three acts, and none of them are his widow or the children they had together, which could be the real reason why Laurene Powell Jobs led a campaign to stifle production of the film. (Shame on you, Christian Bale and Leonardo Di Caprio.)

All in all, aside from a dip in energy in the third act and a score that can be a bit intrusive at points, this unconventionally theatrical take works remarkably well.

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