Our tale is split into three acts, each backstage at varying Apple launches, played out in real time as we approach the beginning of the each respective presentation – taking place in ’84, ’88 and then concluding in ’98 – and the unveiling of the iMac. Jobs, played with a remarkable conviction by Michael Fassbender, is the heartbeat of this digital revolution, pacing around the stage like a lion waiting for feeding time, adamant that, in spite of the ensuing technical difficulties, they begin on time. Meanwhile, the beleaguered mother of his daughter (Katherine Waterston) intends on confronting Jobs for claiming to Time magazine that 28% of the American population could be the father to the young Lisa.
While that is ongoing, Joanna Huffman (Kate Winslet) scurries frantically around after her employer to ensure everything is running to plan, while Jobs remains completely adamant that those around him are working to an idealistic perfection, openly intimidating the likes of Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) – with his only intention being that of sharing his company’s breathtaking accomplishments with the rest of the world, not quite caring what he sacrifices, and who he manages to deeply offend along the way.
Irrespective of the episodic approach taken to this endeavour, with each chapter feeling like an individual stage play, there remains a vital sense of linearity to the narrative, as Sorkin, with a remarkably distinctive screenplay, yet again proves himself to be one of the finest writers in the business. It does feel somewhat contrived in how we persistently refer back to the launches gone, however, as generally speaking, we tend not to remember intricate, minor details from events that occurred 14 years earlier. Even Lisa recalls moments from the first launch, when she was just five years old. Who remembers anything from when they’re five?
But fortunately it’s not enough of an issue to be detrimental to our engagement and investment into the piece, which can also be commended for not romanticising over Jobs’ achievements, nor eulogising over the late CEO of Apple in a sycophantic way, as he comes across in a reprehensible light at times, not only professionally, but as a father. Though perhaps we are seeing him at his worst – as we’re delving into unbearably stressful occasions, and it’s the one shortcoming that comes with this creative narrative structure – for we don’t have the chance to see Jobs just at home, we’re without the small, subtle moments – such as in Selma when we see Martin Luther King arrive home, sigh, and take off his tie. We don’t have that level of intimacy with our subject in this instance, only witnessing him when at work, in front of the press, his employees. Never just at home having a cup of tea, pondering a hard day’s work.
Nonetheless, Fassbender brings the man who changed and dictated the way we communicate in contemporary society, to life in breathtaking fashion. Ashton Kutcher may bear an uncanny resemblance to Jobs in his earlier years, but Fassbender embodies him, as arguably the very finest character actor working today. When you’ve got Sorkin on screenwriting duties, Boyle at the helm and Fassbender in the lead, you’re almost guaranteeing a worthwhile production, and this does not disappoint. Much like the visionary himself, here’s a film that is attempting to do something different, something unprecedented – and triumphing.