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Born to Be Blue

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Canada, United Kingdom

2015

Rated R • 1h37

Robert Budreau

Director

Ethan Hawke, Carmen Ejogo, Callum Keith Rennie, Stephen McHattie

Stars

Drama, Music

Genre

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In the late 1960s, jazz trumpeter Chet Baker is cast as himself in a movie about his troubled early years. But after a vicious attack, he struggles to resurrect his career and get his life back on track with the help of an actress from the film.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

75

The Playlist by

On the whole, Born to Be Blue does right by its central subject. Hawke especially flourishes as the afflicted artist, desperate to put the pieces of his life back together.
80

Variety by Andrew Barker

Upending the conventions of the musical rise-and-fall formula while still offering a relatively straightforward three-act narrative, the film is anchored by an Ethan Hawke performance that ranks among the best of his career.
60

The Guardian by Benjamin Lee

Born to be Blue is a curious mixture of fact and fiction, cliche and originality, style and emotion – it never truly soars but by throwing the ingredients of Baker’s life together and producing something different, it’s never less than intriguing.
70

Screen International by Fionnuala Halligan

Ethan Hawke delivers an intense, committed performance as the hopelessly drug-addicted trumpeter Chet Baker in the odd, erratic Born To Be Blue, written and directed by Robert Budreau as a bumpy free-form improvisation on the hopeless-wreck-makes-musical-comeback biopic.
67

The A.V. Club by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

While there isn’t much to distinguish Born To Be Blue’s dramatic stakes from any number of stories about self-destructive, self-centered artists (or “movies about jazz musicians,” as they’re more commonly known), the film is given a spark of life by the inspired casting of Ethan Hawke.
75

Movie Nation by Roger Moore

Hawke and Ejogo, who played civil rights icon Coretta Scott King in “Selma,” have enough soul and charisma and chemistry to hold the screen and make us feel Born to be Blue, even if we, like Jane in the movie, never quite “get” Chet Baker.
50

Village Voice by Serena Donadoni

Budreau's variation on the theme of Chet Baker doesn't play out as an inspired improvisation, settling instead into the familiar grooves of a redemptive melodrama
50

The Hollywood Reporter by Stephen Dalton

Hawke is natural casting as Baker, sharing enough facial similarities to capture some of the late jazz icon's chiseled, hollow-cheeked, fallen-angel beauty. He gives an unshowy and vanity-free performance, all soft-spoken mischief and brittle arrogance, but laced with just enough blood, sweat and tears.

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