SXSW 2016 Film Review: Born To Be Blue

SXSW 2016 Film Review: Born To Be Blue

Born To Be Blue captures the true story, with a bit of artistic license, of Chet Baker in a beautiful and somber narrative.

This feature follows the story of Chet Baker, played by Ethan Hawke, who was an American jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist and vocalist, credited with creating West Coast Jazz. We begin the story with Baker being let of out jail, something he was not unfamiliar with, being addicted to heroine does that to you.  See, that is the depressing element of this film, Baker was a stubborn drug addict who had wasted chance after chance. Shortly after being release from jail, we see him filming a movie based on himself, and playing himself. It is there that he’s introduced to Jane(Carmen Ejogo), a stunningly beautiful woman with a heart of gold, who falls in love and looks after Chet. Jane exists solely in Born To Be Blue, which is a shame because has Baker had someone like Jane in his life, he might have a real shot to kick the habit. On their first date, Chet is approached by people from his past drug life, and they literally beat the teeth out of him.

This development causes the film he is shooting to be shelved, and forces him to develop a new embouchure, due to the dentures. The rest of Born to be Blue follows his comeback, and is completed with a solemn conclusion, which left me with goosebumps and in awe. Hawke and Ejogo have this indescribable charisma individually, and a compelling chemistry together. Even if you happen to be familiar with Baker’s real life story, you’ll find yourself rooting for Chet in this film, and hoping that for some peculiar reason the filmmakers might fictionalize the ending. Unfortunately, this is not so, and the ending isn’t the one you want, but it’s the truth. Director and Writer Robert Budreau really executed something special with this film, and it’s a shame it is going to have such a limit theater release.

As far as Biopics go, nothing could me more compelling than Born to be Blue. The authenticity of this screenplay, coupled with the added drama and characters infused in the storyline, make for a touching, memorable narrative. In a lineup of films that was overwhelmingly disappointing, Born to be Blue was the shining star of SXSW, making my entire visit to the festival well worth it. Find a way to see this film, buy it if you have to, it will have a profound impact on you.

Official Trailer:

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