Born to Be Blue ★★★★

Simultaneously functioning as a biting critique of standard fare biopics and a pretty insightful one itself, Born to Be Blue is yet another exploration into the complex relationship between art and abuse of any kind. In Chet Baker's case, that abuse is derived from heroine, a catalyst for Baker's late-career fall and subsequent rise. Born to Be Blue charts that journey, cleverly playing with the fabric of biopics and twisting it along the way. Baker is humanized, an almost entirely flawed figure that is very noticeably selfish and indifferent. It doesn't pretend to know him, to fully comprehend the complexities behind his addiction, why he was so compelled to take the dive time and time again. But that's the strength of the film, it's uncanny ability to explore the self-destructive heart of addiction, but at the same time rejoicing in the mythic connection between suffering and genius. That's the thing isn't it? At the end of the film, it cleverly states that Baker made some of his best music in the height of his addiction. As music fans, we treasure these years of tortured artistic creation, in effect appreciating the toll the abuse took on the artist. But what about Baker's girlfriend? His parents? Or for many artists, their kids? Do they rejoice in the suffering that produced great art? This is the inescapable and often ignored fact, artists are two people at once. A human being and a myth, sometimes it's easier not to differentiate.

#6 in my Next 15 Watches
2016 Films Ranked

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