When I heard that this film was scheduled at my local indie theater, I had heard nothing about it. I saw that it had Ethan Hawke in it, and he is a very good actor, so I checked out the trailer, and was immediately hooked. I will say that this film has some great elements, but there are a few parts that fall flat.
Let's start with the acting. Ethan Hawke is phenomenal as Chet Baker. His performance was truly captivating. He was convincing and drew me into this world onscreen. Carmen Ejogo had a bit of a rough start in the film, but her acting evened out over the course of the film. This makes me think that they either shot the beginning first, and she was just getting used to the character, or they shot the ending last, and she was anxious to get done. The only truly bad performance was that of whomever played Jane's father. He was monotonous and robotic, showing absolutely no emotion. Thank goodness he was only in about a minute of the film.
The writing was also good. It was definitely a character-driven story, and the writing did well developing the characters. The film also had an interesting storytelling technique in the beginning in which it cut between the "current" timeline and a biopic (that was made at the beginning of the film) chronicling Baker's earlier life, which almost parallels the troubles he was going through in the "current" timeline. Unfortunately, though, this element thinned out in the middle of the movie, and was seldom used by the end.
The technical elements of the film were solid too. The cinematography was great. There was some really good use of symbolism in the film with the cinematography. The musical performances, in my opinion, were some of the best since "Inside Llewyn Davis" (not better than "Inside Llewyn Davis", but almost as good).
So overall, I was pleased with "Born to Be Blue". It was an interesting music biopic that was pretty well made and had a phenomenal performance by Ethan Hawke. I know that it probably won't hit many theaters, but check it out on DVD if you can.
Born to Be Blue
Big Tuna's Rating: A-
How Did I Watch It?: In theaters.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Yes.
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I look at films as if through old red and blue 3D glasses— one lens is as art, one lens is as entertainment.
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