From Andrew Barker’s 9.13.15 Variety review: “In a cinematic landscape awash with hairsplittingly literal musical biopics, it comes as a pleasant surprise to discover that Robert Budreau’s Chet Baker film, Born to Be Blue (IFC Films, 3.25), is not a Chet Baker biopic at all.
“It is, instead, a film 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.
“Upending the conventions of the musical rise-and-fall formula while still offering a relatively straightforward three-act narrative, the film is anchored by an Ethan Hawke performance that ranks among the best of his career. It’s hard to say how much of a draw it will be commercially: Jazz purists will likely be confused, and viewers expecting anything resembling a primer on Baker’s music will be frustrated. But Budreau isn’t out to make a live-action dramatization of Baker’s Wikipedia page here; he’s trying to make a real film.”