Wesley Stenzel’s review published on Letterboxd:
“It’s like five minutes before a launch, everyone goes to a bar, gets drunk and tells me what they really think.”
Steve Jobs is the kind of movie that its subject would have loved. Not because of its depiction of him, but because of its overly streamlined structure.
Aaron Sorkin is one of the smartest screenwriters out there, and he knows that standard biopics almost always fail (or at least fall short) because they try to cram too much into a two-hour movie. To combat this, he smartly consolidates the life of Steve Jobs into three key moments—specifically, three major launches for Jobs’ products.
This really is a wise choice—narrowing the time frame to specific events, rather than an entire lifetime, gives greater opportunity for focus and cohesion. Unfortunately, while Sorkin limits his timeframe, he doesn’t really limit his scope. Despite the constrained structure, he still incorporates tons of disparate elements from Jobs’ life into these short periods. It’s entirely possible that everything played out in real life as it did in the film, and even if it didn’t, writers deserve creative liberty and leeway to make adjustments in order to form a more coherent narrative.
But it just feels forced. Cramming details and plot threads about Jobs’ childhood, his daughter, his corporate strategies, his relationships with coworkers, and his hubris into such tight narrative windows is awkward and unnatural. It’s possible that all these conversations really happened in such a tight time frame, but it feels implausible.
That being said, Sorkin’s penchant for witty dialogue and memorable characters is still prevalent throughout the movie. It’s impeccably acted across the board. And above all, it does give a nuanced, detailed portrait of one of the most famous creators of the last fifty years, and has a lot to say about the cost of genius and progress. It’s flawed at its core, yet it’s also tough to imagine a two-hour movie about Steve Jobs doing a better or more effective job than this one.
But I’m a sucker for Sorkin, so I loved it despite all its flaws.