The message of the Chet Baker biopic ‘Born to be Blue’ is not perhaps as romantic as his music. It amounts to this. When given the choice between the devoted love of a good woman and a trumpet and a boatload of heroin, go for the latter.
This perhaps surprising conclusion is at the very least honest and accurately depicts the path Baker took through most of his life.
No person it seems could give him the joy of playing music and getting high. The hugely likeable Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker is a fine choice to get the audience to buy into a message that they might normally rail against.
The gorgeous Carmen Ejogo is excellent as the put upon love interest, which goes against her better nature to support a man who had abandoned his previous wife and kids for heroin.
Yet in spite of his weakness and selfishness you kind of see it from Baker’s point of view. His musical playing is the only good he has ever done with his life and to play that instrument the way he likes he prefers to be high.
Anyone who saw Bruce Weber’s beautiful documentary ‘Let’s get Lost’ knows how that ended, with Baker dead in a hotel room in Amsterdam at 58.
But what is left is the beautiful music Baker made, that is so much more than any of us mere mortals are going to leave the world.