‘Born to Be Blue’ breaks mold

Sam Ergina, Online Arcade Editor

When it comes to biopics of legendary musicians, the stories all follow the same template. There’s a rise-and-fall story arc that awaits any bright-eyed musician entering the hazardous world of professional music.

“Born to Be Blue” circumvents that cliched narrative by using creative liberties to tweak the story, which revolves around jazz legend Chet Baker. It begins diverting from the usual storyline of rising to fame and falling to temptations by starting with trumpeter’s falling phase. The plot begins with Baker in an Italian prison and shows his attempt at rising back up to stardom while fighting the lasting consequences from the habits he picked up the first time around. 

The cinematography in the movie is beautiful. From the dark, dingy bar of the jazz mecca Birdland, to the sunny shores of California, “Born to Be Blue” captures the subtle emotions evoked in a variety of settings.

The plot kicks off when Baker, played excellently by Ethan Hawke, is brought back to the United States to star in a film about his life. The movie effectively uses this premise to occasionally flash back to an earlier time in Baker’s life by using black and white scenes that were filmed for the movie about him, in the movie about him. It’s confusing at first, but clever. 

This is a fantastic movie with an extremely talented cast and an impressive directing job by Robert Budreau. “Born to Be Blue” grippingly shows the effect of the classic tragedy that befalls life post-fame and the impact it has on the emotional vulnerability of a musician whose rose-tinted glasses were shattered by the sharks and sirens of the music industry.

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