Born To Be Blue (2016)


Critic Consensus: Born to Be Blue benefits from a highlight-reel performance from Ethan Hawke and an impressionistic, non-hagiographic approach to Chet Baker's life and times.


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Ethan Hawke lights up the screen as jazz legend Chet Baker, whose tumultuous life is thrillingly reimagined with wit, verve, and style to burn. In the 1950s, Baker was one of the most famous trumpeters in the world, renowned as both a pioneer of the West Coast jazz scene and an icon of cool. By the 1960s, he was all but washed up, his career and personal life in shambles due to years of heroin addiction. In his innovative anti-biopic, director Robert Budreau zeroes in on Baker's life at a key moment in the 1960s, just as the musician attempts to stage a hard-fought comeback, spurred in part by a passionate romance with a new flame (Carmen Ejogo). Creatively blending fact with fiction and driven by Hawke's virtuoso performance, Born to Be Blueunfolds with all the stylistic brio and improvisatory genius of great jazz.

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Ethan Hawke
as Chet Baker
Carmen Ejogo
as Jane / Elaine
Tony Nappo
as Officer Reid
Dan Lett
as Danny Friedman
Kedar Brown
as Miles Davis
Kevin Hanchard
as Dizzy Gilespie
Tony Nardi
as Nicholas
Joe Condren
as Actor Dick
Joe Cobden
as Actor Dick
Nat Leone
as Jenny
Barbara Eve Harris
as Elsie Azuka
Eugene Clark
as Henry Azuka
Bruno Rocca
as Italian Prison Guard
Mark Fraser
as Prothodontist
Geoff McCausland
as Bassist Peter
Chip Keen
as Sax Steve
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Critic Reviews for Born To Be Blue

All Critics (115) | Top Critics (33)

Hawke portrays Baker as a little boy lost: selfish, sweet, insecure, arrogant, impossible to live with.

Jul 25, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

A serious, worthwhile film.

Jul 21, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Budreau, who stages several breathtaking scenes of Baker playing against the vast open sky during a visit to his parents' farm in Oklahoma, successfully gets to the root of his subject.

Apr 22, 2016 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Hawke makes this sweeter, gentler Baker believable in a schoolgirl-diary way-this is the Baker we want to believe in when we lie back in the embrace of his trumpet sound.

Apr 18, 2016 | Full Review…

Born to Be Blue doesn't pretend to have all the answers. What it does have - in addition to an immersive performance from Ethan Hawke as the cool-cat jazz man - is an emotional understanding of who Baker was, or may have been.

Apr 10, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The film draws you deeply into Baker's fantasy world, to the point that the entreaty of his famous recording, "Let's Get Lost," almost seems like a good idea.

Apr 7, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Born To Be Blue

A mature romance/biopic that takes an anguishing look at the life of a self-destructive artist struggling to have his old life back after becoming a heroin addict, with Ethan Hawke conveying an exceptionally nuanced combination of arrogance, vulnerability and determination.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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