Born to Be Blue (film)

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Born to Be Blue
Born to Be Blue poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Budreau
Written byRobert Budreau
Produced by
CinematographySteve Cosens
Edited byDavid Freeman
Music by
Distributed byEntertainment One (Canada)[3]
Release dates
  • 13 September 2015 (2015-09-13) (TIFF)
  • 11 March 2016 (2016-03-11) (Canada)
Running time
97 minutes
United Kingdom[3][4][5]
Budgetless than $10 million
Box office$1.5 million[6]

Born to Be Blue is a 2015 internationally co-produced drama film directed, produced and written by Robert Budreau. The film stars Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo. It was shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[7] The film is about American jazz musician Chet Baker, portrayed by Hawke.


The film is described as "semi-factual, semi-fictional".[8] Variety's reviewer, Andrew Barker, noted that the film is "about a character who happens to share a name and a significant number of biographical similarities with Chet Baker, taking the legendary West Coast jazz musician's life as though it were merely a chord chart from which to launch an improvised set of new melodies".[2] Set largely in 1966, Baker (portrayed by Ethan Hawke) is hired to play himself in a movie about his earlier years when he first tried heroin. He romances actress Jane Azuka (a fictional character, a composite of several of Baker's women in real life, portrayed here by Carmen Ejogo) but on their first date, Baker is attacked by thugs and his front teeth smashed. As Baker recovers from his injury, his embouchure is ruined and he is unable to play trumpet any better than a novice. Meanwhile, he must answer to a probation officer, and ensure he is employed, while sticking to his regimen of methadone treatment.



In October 2014, it was announced that Ethan Hawke had joined the cast portraying the role of Chet Baker, with Robert Budreau directing from a screenplay he wrote.[10] That same month, it was announced that Carmen Ejogo and Callum Keith Rennie had also joined the cast of the film.[10] Filming took place in Sudbury, Ontario, in fall 2014.[11]

The jazz score to the film was created by composer and pianist David Braid.[12] The audio for trumpet performances in the film was done by Kevin Turcotte.[13] Hawke had taken trumpet lessons from Ben Promane,[14] and requested video of Turcotte recording, in order to mime the playing during the shoot.[15]


The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 13 September 2015.[1][16] Shortly after, IFC Films acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film.[17] The film had a limited Canadian release on 11 March 2016,[13][15] and a limited release in the United States two weeks later.[18][19][20]

Critical reception[edit]

Born to Be Blue received positive reviews from film critics, with Hawke's performance receiving praise. It holds an 88% "Certified Fresh" rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 100 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10 and critical consensus being: "Born to Be Blue benefits from a highlight-reel performance from Ethan Hawke and an impressionistic, non-hagiographic approach to Chet Baker's life and times".[21] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 64 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[22]

Soundtrack album[edit]

Warner Music Canada released a collection of 14 tracks, with 12 arranged or composed by David Braid and 1 track each by Charles Mingus and Odetta. Two tracks feature Hawke's vocals.[23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Born to Be Blue – Films – TIFF 2015 – Telefilm Canada". Telefilm Canada. 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b Andrew Barker (13 September 2015). "Film Review: 'Born to Be Blue'". Variety. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Born to Be Blue [programme note]". Toronto International Film Festival. 2015. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  4. ^ Jordan Pinto (7 March 2016). "The birth of eOne's Born to be Blue". Retrieved 29 March 2016. The film is written and directed by Robert Budreau and is produced by two Canadian prodcos, New Real Films and Lumanity Productions, as well as the U.K.'s Black Hangar Studios. Born to be Blue is distributed by eOne in Canada and IFC Films in the U.S.
  5. ^ "Born To Be Blue". IFC Films. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Born to be Blue (2016)". The Numbers. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Ethan Hawke and Ellen Page films added to Toronto film festival lineup". The Guardian. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  8. ^ Michael Sragow (24 March 2016). "Deep Focus: Born to Be Blue". Film Comment. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  9. ^ The New Chet Baker Biopic: Fact, Fiction & Poetic Truth
  10. ^ a b Tartaglione, Nancy (23 October 2014). "Ethan Hawke To Play Chet Baker In Trumpeter Biopic 'Born To Be Blue'". Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Ethan Hawke shoots Chet Baker biopic in Sudbury". CBC News, 23 October 2014.
  12. ^ Peter Hum (4 April 2016). "David Braid on the Music of Born to Be Blue". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  13. ^ a b Linda Barnard (11 March 2016). "Ethan Hawke gets to the heart of Chet Baker". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  14. ^ Brad Wheeler (10 March 2016). "Born to Be Blue tells the tragic and true-ish story of Chet Baker". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  15. ^ a b Lau, Melody (11 March 2016). "Born to be Blue composer David Braid reveals the process behind the Chet Baker film's soundtrack". CBC Music. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  16. ^ Scott Feinberg (16 September 2015). "TIFF: 'Born to Be Blue' Star Ethan Hawke Could Contend at Indie Awards If Film Finds Buyer". The Hollywood Reporter / The Race. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  17. ^ Ford, Rebecca (8 October 2015). "IFC Films Acquires Ethan Hawke's 'Born to Be Blue'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  18. ^ "Born to be Blue". Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  19. ^ Patrick Ryan (21 March 2016). "Ethan Hawke was 'Born' to play jazz icon Chet Baker". USA Today. Retrieved 29 March 2016. ... premiered to strong reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall and opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday (and on video on demand March 31).
  20. ^ Jordan Pinto (7 March 2016). "The Birth of eOne's Born to Be Blue". Playback Online. Retrieved 29 March 2016. The film opens two weeks earlier in Canada than it does in the U.S, starting March 11 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and at Montreal's Cinema Du Parc. One week later, on March 18, Blue opens in four cities in Ontario (London, Waterloo, Guelph and Sudbury), as well as Saskatoon, SK, Halifax, NS and Edmonton, AB. On March 25, the film opens in Vancouver, BC and Calgary, AB, followed by Ottawa, ON and Victoria, BC on April 1 and Regina, SK on April 8. The Bell Lightbox screening on March 11 is followed by a Q&A session with Budreau, while Ethan Hawke also appeared at a special screening of the event on Feb. 29 at the same venue. eOne's VP of theatrical operations Tim Smythe-Bishop said the strategy behind opening in Canada two weeks ahead of in the U.S. was partially so the Canadian release would receive an extra boost from Ethan Hawke's promotional appearances south of the border.
  21. ^ "Born To Be Blue (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Born To Be Blue Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  23. ^ "Born to Be Blue: Music from the Motion Picture" (Press release). Rhino Media. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  24. ^ "Born to Be Blue: Music from the Motion Picture" (Press release). Warner Music Canada. 17 February 2016. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.

External links[edit]