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Aaron Sorkin: The Somewhat Romantic

Updated on October 22, 2016

Written in Excellence


Works of a Wordsmith

There’s a certain type of symmetry associated with the films of Aaron Sorkin. The wordplay, the patterned, textured verbiage only excel with every scene. In his latest effort, Steve Jobs (2015) Sorkin never fails to imbue his work with name jokes, cutting remarks, and clever turns of phrase. But the man, Sorkin, has spoken in interviews and in acceptance speeches the contradictory nature of his works and the figures that he projects. From stating that programmer/entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg is an "incredible altruist" and that it's his "job to be subjective" Sorkin misses completely the sense of the main idea of his works. He projects intelligence, honor, productiveness, the goodness of being selfish, integrity, humor, and love. Deftly, Sorkin weaves tales of presidents, lawyers, doctors, journalists, baseball general managers, and tech icons. What is most remarkable about him is the fact that he describes his work as romantic (which it is, somewhat). He doesn't show what man is or ought to be in the most exact way, but he comes close to it. He endows his characters with traits which would signal more virtues than vices. For example, with Jobs, he paints a portrait of independence and drive in the face of failure and defeat in the title role.

He has dabbled in true stories in nonfiction with the films (also based on books) Charlie Wilson's War (2007), The Social Network (2010), Moneyball (2011) and Jobs. Each time that he portrays real life characters, he instills in them a clash of ideals and writes actions which illustrate their innermost desires. Often, Sorkin will say in interviews that his leads want something; it doesn't matter what it is but the audience has to care about whether or not the main character achieves or fails in the end.

Though he could ease up on all the profanity, Sorkin fortifies his scripts with barbs. The rat-a-tat style of dialogue calls attention to the actor's ability to deliver those sublime lines. As a playwright masquerading as a screenwriter, Sorkin's works are light on explosions and car chases and heavy on resonant talk. His choice to structure his latest opus as three acts, each highlighting the launch of a key product in Jobs' companies, gives the impression that he understands the basics of storytelling. To simply put on the page a story of Job's life from beginning to end would not be interesting. The depiction of Jobs as a ruthless businessman and reluctant father only perpetuates the conflict which exists in Sorkin's take on the late great Apple mogul. Much like his characters, Sorkin possesses a bit of darkness, a snappy wit, and an undying pursuit of excellence. And that is to his credit.


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