Born to Be Blue | Ethan Hawke plays tragic jazz trumpeter Chet Baker in an impressionistic biopic

Born To Be Blue Ethan Hawke Carmen Ejogo
(Image credit: © Universal Studios)

Born To Be Blue Ethan Hawke Carmen Ejogo

The lost boy of jazz.

Jazz legend Chet Baker is one of music’s tragic cautionary tales. He had the looks of a James Dean, a heartbreakingly wistful tenor voice and a silvery trumpet. He was also an irredeemable junkie whose chronic heroin addiction came to dominate his life.

Impressionistic biopic Born to Be Blue charts the highs and (mostly) lows of Baker’s career, with Ethan Hawke capturing the musician in all his touchingly vulnerable and maddeningly self-destructive moods.

Born To Be Blue Ethan Hawke Carmen Ejogo

Canadian writer-director Robert Budreau improvises around some of the key events in his subject’s life, giving us glimpses of his 1950s heyday, when Baker was the embodiment of West Coast cool, but mostly concentrating on his turbulent 1960s. Back then, Baker’s life and career could have gone either way, the film proposes, inventing the composite figure of Carmen Ejogo’s loyal actress girlfriend Jane to suggest a possible alternative for Baker to heroin’s fatal allure.

Certificate 15. Runtime 98 mins. Director Robert Budreau

Born to Be Blue debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Sunday 24 September. Available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Universal Pictures.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.