This reissued portrait of West Coast jazz trumpeter Chet Baker turns on a heartbreaking contrast between his beautiful youth in the Fifties and his ravaged looks in the late Eighties, when photographer Bruce Weber caught up with him.
Shot in luminous black and white, Weber's film skates over Baker's private life – three wives, four children – and focuses on the ruined visage and the hypnotically soft, slow speech. The amazing cheekbones are intact, but not much else: his teeth were knocked out during a brawl in San Francisco in 1968, by which time he was in deep with drugs. When asked about his favourite high, he replies, "a speedball" (a cocktail of heroin and cocaine).
Archival footage and photographs of Baker in his "cool jazz" pomp are almost too sad to contemplate, and the testament of friends and family leaves us in no doubt as to his manipulative nature. There's a bittersweet coda at Cannes in 1987, when Baker croons "Almost Blue" at a nightclub and wins tumultuous applause. It's a kind of swansong: he died after falling from the window of an Amsterdam hotel the following year, aged 58.