Born To Be Blue Is An Interesting Re-Imagining Of A True Story
Chet Baker was an American Jazz musician who was as famous for his drug habit as he was his music. Born To Be Blue is based on his life, but don’t go into it thinking it is a biography, because it’s not. It’s based on his life, but there is as much fiction to the movie as their is truth. The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, and now is finally getting its time at the theater.
Born To Be Blue opens with Chet (played by Ethan Hawke) filming a movie about his life. He falls in love with his co-star in the movie (played by Carmen Ejogo), but finds his career coming to a halt after a run in with some men from his past who knock his teeth out. As he recovers from his injuries he discovers that his abilities as a trumpeter have suffered, and his life continues to spiral downwards. When he hits rock bottom Chet finally decides to clean himself up, he discovers a new way to play his instrument and starts to mount a comeback, but staying sober is easier said than done.
Ethan Hawke has a difficult role to play in Born To Be Blue. After all his character is messed up and difficult to like, but yet he plays him in a way that doesn’t make you want to turn away from the film. You are drawn into his world and keep hoping that things turn out for the best for him. Not a lot of actors can walk the line like Hawke does and make you like a negative character and keep cheering him on. The trap this movie has set for itself though is trickier to get out of. When you go into a biography, you want to see as much truth as possible, but the makers claim it’s not a biography. The character shares traits and parts of his story with the real Chet Baker, but lives his own life in the end. The film might have avoided this trap if they had changed the characters’ names and given it an “inspired by a true story” tag instead.
Born To Be Blue is an interesting look at an artist addicted to more than their art, and well worth hour and a half it takes to watch it. You might even find some inspiration for doing something in your own life you’re told you can’t do.
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