This year, Canadian director Robert Budreau teamed up with Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo for Born To Be Blue, a film about Chet Baker’s so-called life. Budreau has already written and directed a film exploring Baker’s death in 2009, called The Deaths of Chet Baker. Throughout the 1950s, Chet Baker was one of the most famous American jazz trumpeters and vocalists. His cover of the 1937 song ”My Funny Valentine” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart became an instant hit. Throughout his career, he was in an out of jail due to his drug habits and remained a heroin addict until his death. Today, Baker is remembered as a jazz icon.
Starring Ethan Hawke, who portrays the jazz musician, with Carmen Ejogo playing Baker’s love interest, Born To Be Blue focuses on what Baker’s life would have been in the 1960s following a tragic accident occurring late one night when he was beaten after a gig in California. Baker’s front teeth were broken and this caused his embouchure to be ruined. We witness Baker’s downfall following the beating and his struggles to stay sober until his career as a musician restarts. Born To Be Blue is not your typical biographical picture. As Hawke stated at the premiere of the film at the Cinémathèque Québécoise, Budreau’s film is trying to re-imagine what Chet Baker’s life would be.
Ejogo plays a compilation of what Baker’s love interests would have been. It is a film which required a lot of research about Baker’s life while remaining fictional and not completely biographical. A musician and jazz lover himself, Hawke is impressive to watch and hear on screen. He seems to have an ease to play the trumpet and sing which adds authenticity to his portrayal of the late jazz musician. Born To Be Blue is a film about passion; passion for music, passion about love but also passion for drugs. Baker suffers from addiction throughout the film which complicates his relationship, his friendships and also the relationship he has built with jazz music.
Born To Be Blue is now playing in theatres.