April 3, 2016
Director: Robert Budreau
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Carmen Ejogo, Callum Keith Rennie
Runtime: 97 minutes
“Budreau constructs with imagination and pleasing fluidity, painting a portrait with a soft, sympathetic focus while steering clear of worship.”—Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail
“Ethan Hawke gives one of the best performances of his career in Robert Budreau’s Chet Baker non-biopic.” – Andrew Barker, Variety
After being plucked out of an Italian prison in 1966, jazz trumpeter Chet Baker (Ethan Hawke) is paroled in order to star in a cinematic adaptation of his life story.
After a violent run-in with his former heroin dealer destroys his already tarnished reputation shelves the film indefinitely and leaves Baker unable to play his beloved instrument, the musician finds solace in Jane (Carmen Ejogo), the actress who was tasked with playing an amalgamation of all of Chet’s past loves.
Jane tries leading Chet on the straight and narrow — with the help of his still skeptical former record producer (Callum Keith Rennie) — and back to a life of making music and clean living.
Born to be Blue dazzles thanks to an exemplary performance from Hawke in what might be his best role to date. Baker’s often soft-spoken and conciliatory nature belies a lot of tics, neuroses and a temper that often flares like a gasoline fire, and Hawke nails every bit of it, with Rennie and Ejogo acting nicely as equals in Baker’s life.
Canadian writer and director Robert Budreau also deserves a lot of credit for not forcing his film to be a comprehensive biopic but rather a look at a fixed point in time that Baker’s life will be informed by.
Hawke and the material galvanize the final results into a bio-pic that resonates long after