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Born to be Blue

"'Born to Be Blue' serves as an honest and heartfelt ode to not only Chet Baker, but those who revel in the occasional highs and neverending lows that overwhelm the pursuit of art." - Consequence of Sound

“Ethan Hawke makes a riveting Chet Baker in this free-flowing biopic of the legendary trumpeter. Much like the lilting melodies that curl around it like cigarette smoke, Robert Budreau’s film about the life of the trumpet player Bakeris jazz, not gospel.

“Using a handful of key events during Baker’s life in the mid-1960s as inspiration, Budreau noodles and riffs around them, allowing the action to unspool in whichever direction feels natural. The result is a film that, despite its lack of interest in recreating Baker’s life down to the last cough and sneeze, feels truthful down to its bones – and another vital reminder that biopics can reveal much about their subjects while only showing us a sliver of their lives.

 

“The film is blessed with two lead performances that are nigh-on unswampable, given by two actors with sexual chemistry to spare. Hawke expertly captures Baker’s angular fragility, both in his languidly crumpled face and his voice – and what a voice Hawke turns out to have, full of uninsistent, weather-beaten yearning. But the invaluable Carmen Ejogo goes one better, turning the patient lover role into a kind of always-whirring empathy machine, whose notionally passive role makes dramatic sense of Baker’s various triumphs and slip-ups.

“Early in the film, Baker is badly beaten by his heroin dealer, and a large part of the plot follows the slow recuperation of his embouchure and ego, while he simultaneously swaps heroin for methadone. But when it becomes clear the old magic is back, it’s Ejogo’s beautifully underplayed reactions that give the moment its power.” - Telegraph

 

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