Born to be Blue starring Ethan Hawke is a re-imagining of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker's life in the 60's. When Chet stars in a film about himself, a romance heats up with his costar, the enigmatic Jane (Carmen Ejogo). Production is shelved when Chet's past comes back to haunt him and it appears he may never play music again but Jane challenges him to mount a musical comeback against all the odds.Written by
According to Ethan Hawke on the 'WTF Podcast', he wanted to play Chet Baker going back 15 to 20 years before. Richard Linklater, when approached with Hawke by the idea of a biopic, had his own idea of making a Baker film about a day-in-the-life story about the day before Baker tried heroin for the first time. But because the project couldn't gain traction, and Hawke's age not matching up after years of effort of finding a distributor, the idea was dropped. See more »
Jane holds a stick figure made of vegetables on the set that disappears and reappears between shots. See more »
Ethan Hawke is Amazing, as is Everything in Between
Born to be Blue follows famed jazz musician Chet Baker as he struggles with both losing and attempting to regain his ability to play the trumpet, as well as quitting his addiction to heroin.
Ethan Hawke plays Chet Baker, and I was a little unsure as to what I'd think. I haven't been terribly impressed by Hawke, despite liking him in his movies. He hasn't blown me away with anything. That is, until this movie. He's pretty great. He fits the character perfectly as this rough-around-the-edges but still used to the wealthy lifestyle which he has and a little naive because of it kind of guy. One would think that the higher tone of voice he uses for this role might be annoying, but it really isn't. Plus he just looks the part. He was perfect in every way for this film and his character.
This is a movie about a famous jazz musician, so we can assume that the soundtrack will be good. And it certainly is. Not much to say there, but it's great. The fact that Hawke even sang all of it is even more impressive on his part. He's got a great voice for the part too, and I'll definitely be listening to this soundtrack in the future.
The flashback sequences were pretty cool. Normally filters placed over a scene bother me, but in this case it worked really well. That, and the fact that it isn't the whole movie placed under a filter. Plus, the filter is just really cool. It suits the movie with it's black and white look with a tint of blue. It looks like a flashback, but it has this dark liveliness to it, similarly to how Baker's life was portrayed. Furthermore, the movie decides to use the same actress as his lover for both the flashbacks and the present for reasons that I won't spoil. But trust me, it was a interesting decision and it worked.
And the climax, or more just the whole last twenty or so minutes, are amazing. They are easily the best part of the movie. There's an excellent scene right before the climax itself involving a decision Baker has to make, and it's so good. Of course, Hawke continues to tell us how great he is in this role. Then the climax itself starts and it's great. And as it comes to a close it wraps itself up in a way that we don't see often. It's a realistic, unconventional way of doing it that I figure is the truth. As far as biographies go, we don't see a lot of them where the ending isn't all good and happy. Born to be Blue is one of those rare movies that has the balls to tell an honest story with an honest ending, and I loved it. Right down to how certain small elements were handled were just on point.
If I can find any real error in this movie its the fact that the general plot of some skilled person hitting rock bottom and working their way back up has been used many times. However, the presentation is all that really matters in a case like this, and I thought it was pretty great. On top of that the movie is, despite being only 97 minutes long a little slow. Maybe I expected it to fly by because of how much shorter it is than some other movies, but I thought it dragged just a little from time to time.
Overall Born to be Blue is pretty fantastic. The acting, specifically from Ethan Hawke is great, the music is great, the climax is fantastic, and it all around nailed it's presentation of an otherwise unoriginal idea. This is one of the best movies of the year and I would definitely recommend checking it out.
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