Although Born to be blue is a biopic about jazz legendary trumpeter, flugelhornist and singer Chet Baker, it is not a factual account of his life. We are at the end of the 60’s and Baker (Ethan Hawke) is in love with an actress named Jane (Carmen Ejogo). Jane is a fictional composite of several women in Baker’s life. A heroin addict, Baker is beaten by drug dealers. His jaw and teeth are so damaged that doctors predict that he will never play again. But, through excruciating pain, Baker is back playing in a few months. Meanwhile, he has to answer to a strict probation officer (Tony Nappo) and go though a methadone treatment. With Jane by his side, Baker asks his old producer, Dick (Callum Keith Rennie), who had given up on him, to take him back again. Everything seems to be going well for Baker. But you know the saying: Once an addict… Ethan Hawke shows a tremendous virtuosity by always playing with nuances. Hawke’s intense gaze while he breathlessly whispers every lines, showing the life, the danger boiling inside a genius like Chet Baker. Ethan Hawke is a master of subtlety. Restraint is also evident everywhere in this Canadian film (shot in Sudbury, Ontario). Carmen Ejogo is an apt partner to Hawke. Ejogo is the heart of the film, the emotions, Hawke is the raw instinct. Cinematographer Steve Cosens also gave me the subtleties I saw elsewhere. An odd choice was made not to use Baker’s original recordings. Vocals are provided by Hawke, who powerfully sings My funny Valentine. Kevin Turcotte plays the trumpet. purist might dislike it, but I enjoyed the music a great deal. A feast for the ears, the eyes and the heart.
Born to be blue
Callum Keith Rennie