(DISCLOSURE: I read a fairly current draft of the script a while before the film came out, and I absolutely loved it.)
As a performance showcase, Steve Jobs is phenomenal. Fassebender, Winslet, and Rogen do exceptional work here, with Fassebender in particular using notes of desperation and the occasional puppy dog eyes to create what is possibly the highlight of his career so far.
As a writing showcase, Steve Jobs is phenomenal. Sorkin’s best insticts – rapid fire witticisms, dissection of the male ego, the exploration of hunger and isolation inherit to success – take precedent over his tendency to overwrite and showboat (for the most part. And when it does happen, he usually has a character call someone out on it. So at least he’s gaining self awareness).
Sorkin’s bold structural approach allows him to examine the mythologized version of Steve Jobs and gradually narrow that idea into a real person, whose flaws may be ever-present, but who is still more than just a collection of clever barks. He turns a theory into a man. It’s truly Sorkin’s best work to date, and avoids many common biopic pitfalls to make his own extraordinary beast. Despite his occasionally overreaching sentimentality, his script is a moving, powerful, and daring piece of writing.
As a directorial showcase, however, Steve Jobs falters considerably. Boyle inserts himself when he should have stayed out of the way. Whether it be from wall projections to transitional edits to obvious music choices, Boyle attempts to make his mark in ways that unfortunately only serve to distract and push the sentimentality to hallmark extremes.
I can only imagine this film with Fincher at the helm and every other crew member exactly the same. As it stands, it’s still an achievement.