Review by Camden Ferrell
Jerrod Carmichael has made a name for himself in recent years as a comedian, appearing in projects like The Carmichael Show and Lucas Bros. Moving Co. to name a few. On the Count of Three marks the narrative feature directorial debut of Carmichael and had its premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. This movie is able to tackle a serious subject matter with a lot of heart, humor, and character to create a unique story of friendship that never loses momentum.
Val is depressed with his life and wants to end his suffering by committing suicide. His best friend, Kevin, is coincidentally recovering from a failed suicide attempt. The two friends decide to make a suicide pact together, so they can both escape their pain. However, before they execute their plan, they have some loose ends to tie up. This is a really unique premise, and it’s one that’s an unconventional approach to a serious topic, but this allows the film to feel fresh and engaging while you’re watching it.
The script is very strong throughout. Written by Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch, this movie revels in its dialogue and exploration of larger themes. The conversational aspect of its story is paramount to its success, and these writers are able to write dialogue that is fast-paced, entertaining, and reflective of the individual personalities of its protagonists.
One of the best parts about this is the chemistry of its leads. Carmichael and Christopher Abbott lead the film as Val and Kevin respectively. They both fit perfectly into their characters, and they are each able to deliver strong individual performances. However, the real charm is when they are on screen together. They feel like two best friends, and they are both able to maturely and humorously handled the gravity of the film’s premise.
This movie takes a very serious issue like suicide and puts a spin on it that is dark and quite enjoyable and funny. It has lots of witty banter to alleviate any tension due to the premise. The real skill of this movie is how it’s able to be funny without subverting the very serious and permanent nature of suicide. Obviously, this movie might still prove to be too much for some due to subject matter, but I thought it tastefully handled the issue while still being a bittersweet buddy comedy.
On the Count of Three is a great showcase for its director, writers, and two lead actors. It’s one of the more unique movies I’ve seen lately that still has the potential for mainstream appeal. There is plenty to enjoy in its very brief runtime, and it goes by quickly. This is a movie that everyone should consider checking out, but due to the subject matter, I’d recommend watching at your own discretion.
On the Count of Three is in theaters and VOD May 13.