Born To Be Blue tells the tragic story of legendary Cool Jazz trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker—sort of. Canadian writer-director Robert Budreau decided to ignore biopic conventions for this cautionary tale of how a vanguard of the West Coast Jazz scene of the ’50s and ’60s delved too deep into drugs and ended up losing his teeth and, for a while, his career. While the introductory moments of the above trailer—which squeezes an impressive amount of jazz-film cliches into 40 seconds of screen time—are less than inspiring, that seems to be part of Budreau’s meta game. By most critical accounts out of the Toronto International Film Festival, Born To Be Blue plays loosely with the facts of Baker’s life, inventing incidents here and rearranging timelines there.
Ethan Hawke “gives one of the best performances of his career” as the drug-addled, once-beautiful smoky-voiced musician, according to Variety’s Andrew Barker. Hawke might not be quite so gorgeous as the young Chet Baker, but he actually scuffs himself up reasonably well to play Baker post-needle. Carmen Ejogo plays a composite of the many women in the musician’s life, and her love affair with Baker apparently serves as the heart of the film. Kevin Hanchard and Kedar Brown play jazz icons Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, respectively.
Born To Be Blue will reach theaters on March 25, followed by a VOD release on March 31.