Aaron Sorkin opens up a new desktop icon with Steve Jobs, a briskly busy, talkative companion piece to the Newsroom and Moneyball writer's Mark Zuckerberg–centric The Social Network. Adapting Walter Isaacson's biography of the Apple innovator, Sorkin's latest is less a novel exposé than a distinctly Sorkinian dramatization of well-known material. Still, it's helmed with whip-smart panache by Danny Boyle and boasts a backstage-drama structure that invites comparisons to last year's inferior Birdman. This is a swift and searing attempt to pull back the curtain on Jobs and, in the process, investigate the relationship between the myth and the man.
Like Sorkin's Facebook film, Steve Jobs casts its protagonist in ironic terms: as a man who triumphantly connected millions of people both through and to technology, and yet couldn't himself figure out how best to interact with others. Sorkin offers a rise-fall-rise narrative arc of both a personal and professional sort, charting Jobs's efforts to change the world with his era-defining home computers, but also his gradual transformation from an unrepentantly prickish and selfish mad genius to one who's ever so slightly less unrepentantly prickish and selfish. It's all staged by Boyle with a laser-focused fleetness and precision that — light-years removed from Birdman's single-take gimmickry — jibes perfectly with Sorkin's trademark rat-a-tat-tat verbal volleying.
Michael Fassbender embodies Jobs not with the tics of an impersonator but through a convincing attitude of calculating detachment, ambition, and ruthlessness. He doesn't look like the man, but he feels like him, inhabiting Jobs so fully, and zealously, that the lack of resemblance proves no distraction.