Ethan Hawke lights up the screen as jazz legend Chet Baker, whose tumultuous life is thrillingly reimagined with wit, verve, and style to burn. In the 1950s, Baker was one of the most famous trumpeters in the world, renowned as both a pioneer of the West Coast jazz scene and an icon of cool. By the 1960s, he was all but washed up, his career and personal life in shambles due to years of heroin addiction. In his innovative anti-biopic, director Robert Budreau zeroes in on Baker’s life at a key moment in the 1960s, just as the musician attempts to stage a hard-fought comeback, spurred in part by a passionate romance with a new flame, brilliantly portrayed by Camen Ejogo. Creatively blending fact with fiction and driven by Hawke’s virtuoso performance, BORN TO BE BLUE unfolds with all the stylistic brio and improvisatory genius of great jazz.
Hawke has never faced such a challenge as playing a blues legend/junkie; my initial emotion upon the first few scenes was apprehension & skepticism. As the film progresses, however, you find yourself enthralled in the constant conflicts and addictions of Chet Baker, and rooting for his recovery; Hawke’s depiction of Baker is nothing short of masterful. Not for the faint of heart, BORN TO BE BLUE is very graphic & doesn’t spare any of the intense images & emotions an addict is subject to. An absolute must watch for anyone who considers themselves a lover of music, Chet Baker, Jazz, and the human spirit.
BORN TO BE BLUE was screened for myself & other industry professionals at Soho House on February 29th, and opens to the general public March 25th.