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
Ethan Hawke is my favorite actor and I make it a point never to miss his movies. Just for that reason I know about 'Born to be Blue'. Where I live, this movie will never get screened in a movie hall, I'll never find a DVD and it will probably rarely be ever shown on TV. I guess even in Canada(Chet Baker's home country), not many have seen it yet. Such is the low profile of Ethan Hawke's art cinema role preferences that most of the times people come to know about these movies long after they are released. That trend is in-fact exemplified by this semi-fictional biopic about Chet Baker, the prolific jazz trumpeter, heroin addict and a free spirit.
The story is a bit of a noir mixed with real life incidents. It plays like a heroin fueled jazz improvisio. Chet Baker, the artist on whose life it is based on, was a bit of an enigma himself. Starting way back in the heydays of jazz, Chet was a white artist making his mark in the black dominated music scene. Estranged from his father and addicted to substance abuse, he was on a lookout for love that was always around the corner but never enough. A typical self destructive musician. The biggest crest in the plot comes in the form of actual physical harm. Details are unclear but some rivalries lead to him getting beaten up and losing his ability to play the trumpet. We see a lot of movies about 'comebacks' but this one is real. It is not just about overcoming defeat or depression. It is about finding yourself being propelled by passion and passion alone to achieve something impossible.
Ethan Hawke has done it again! Ever since Gattaca, I have found his performance mesmerizing. As Chet Baker, he embodies the pain and madness of a jazz artist so brilliantly that you would forget the flaws of the person and start loving him for what he is. Oh! and Hawke sings in his own voice in two of the songs. Soundtrack of the movie consists of some of the best Jazz standards and songs performed by David Braid. So, if you're a jazz aficionado then you should not miss it for the world.
Carmen Ejogo is a fresh face from England and plays the persistent love interest of Chet in the film. This is her first performance that I've come across and she is scintillating. To say that her role is split in two parts is enough preview without spoiling the rest. I implore you to go watch this film. Go with a lover if you can because it is about heartbreaks more than personal struggles.
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