Those who know about trumpet player and vocalist Chet Baker know that his life is split into two parts: one before his teeth were broken and one after. The 2016 film “Born to be Blue” is a biopic that threads the line between fiction and fact and focuses on the period after his chin trauma.
Chet Baker is born to a professional guitarist father and a piano playing mother in 1929. Music has been a part of his life since very early ages, and he starts getting people’s attention when he starts playing with the sax player Stan Getz. He then joins Gerry Mulligan Quartet and works on prolific projects that would earn him lots of fans in his 50s. Unfortunately he starts using heroin at the end of his 50s, a habit he never gives up, and goes to jail many times and even deported from several countries. And he was mysteriously found dead in front of his Amsterdam hotel, most probably related to heroin, at 58, and the mystery of his death hasn’t been fully solved until this day.
The movie starts with scenes from a movie set in which Chet Baker is playing as an actor in his own biography. He meets Jane in this movie set and they fall in love. On their first date, that fateful event that marks the second period of Chet Baker’s life happens. Then drama follows; traumatic father and son relationship, those days where he tries to stay away from drugs… He also has a Miles Davis complex. Baker’s biggest dream is to play at Birdland, but Miles tells him “You aren’t that good white man, go back to south.” This becomes Chet Baker’s nightmare. After his teeth are broken, he starts to start everything from scratch. The scene where is lover asks him “If you cannot play the trumpet like you did before?” and he replies with “Yes” is especially heart wrenching, and shows how well Ethan Hawke portrays the melancholic state of mind of the musician. By the way, it is evident that the scenarist and director of the movie Robert Bureau is a Chet Baker fan. He shot a short movie called “The Deaths of Chet Baker” in 2009 that focuses on the mysterious death of the musician in front of his Amsterdam hotel. As can be understood from the title, the movie consists of a couple of plausible explanations for Chet Baker’s death. Stephen McHattie is a great choice to cast as Chet Baker in “The Deaths of Chet Baker”. The same actor plays Baker’s father in “Born to be Blue”. Despite the fact that he is very handsome, talented and intelligent, all photos of Chet Baker’s second period carries a feeling of sadness. He smiles, but you know that he doesn’t laugh. Chet Baker’s singing of “Everything Happens To Me” is the best version for this reason. Maybe for this reason “Born to be Blue” is the best title that could be picked for this movie. Hope you enjoy watching this movie.