Born to Be Blue is a biopic drama directed by Robert Budreau. A reimagining of Chet Baker, a legendary Jazz musician renowned for his music as much as his drug addiction. Taking place during 1966, Baker (Hawke) is trying to further his career by starring in a movie about his early career days and bout with heroin. Baker get into a scuffle that leaves him beaten with his mouth broken. The injury sustained destroys his embouchure leaving him to relearn how to play the trumpet. A re-imagining of jazz legend Chet Baker’s musical comeback in the late ’60s.
Even though it’s touted as a semi factual/semi fictional story, it’s still in the vein of being a biopic. Choosing bits here and there of Chet Baker’s life to create a drama, still works to tell a story. It captures the essence and tone of the time to create a compelling film. Carmen Ejogo does a good performance as both the present and past love interest. Ethan Hawke does an amazing job portraying a tortured musician. Hawke did the film vocals and had a coach to train him on use of the trumpet if he had lost his front teeth. Whether or not he is convincing as Chet Baker isn’t an issue, he is believable as jazz artist with a drug addiction. The music and cinematography fit the mood and tone of this film that sometimes feels you are watching a dream, memory or a scene from the movie being filmed. The negative is the film tends to drag sometimes and could use some more backstory of his earlier life.
The film isn’t a true biopic, but it never claimed to be. Born to Be Blue is slow going, but Ethan Hawke does an amazing performance. It’s a depressing, but entertaining film. Watch this story of man that must work to be great at something that once came naturally.
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 1 hr 37 min
Director: Robert Budreau
Screenplay: Robert Budreau
Cast: Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo
Producers: Jennifer Jonas, Robert Budreau, Leonard Farlinger and Jake Seal
Music: David Braid, Todor Kobakov and Steve London
Cinematography: Steve Cosens