SUNDANCE REVIEW: ON THE COUNT OF THREE (2021)

“Sorry, I didn’t know I had to send a save the date for a double suicide.”

What would you do on your last day of living? It’s not a luxury that many get to experience. In fact, we usually see that theme playout in people with terminal illnesses living their best life in a hopeful outlook on their bleak future. Val and Kevin, best buddies since childhood, haven’t been diagnosed with any terminal illness. No, their way out is to put guns to one another’s head and pull the trigger. At the last second, Kevin pushes away Val’s gun, dodging the incoming bullet. Before the two end their lives, they’re going to right all their wrongs, and right the wrongs people have brought upon them.

On the Count of Three is not your usual hopeful last days of living. But even with such a serious storyline as this, the film is actually pretty funny. Val and Kevin don’t have a plan as to what will happen throughout the day. It’s just going to happen. Val (Jerrod Carmichael) is overwhelmed with his relationship between him and his girlfriend, Natasha (Tiffany Haddish). Jerrod Carmichael, who’s also the director of the film, is cool playing Val’s more serious demeanor. After an almost marriage proposal, Val has skipped out on her — refusing to answer her many calls. “A scared little boy with a yellow jeep,” she says in one of her many messages to him. But that’s not all of his problems, as he also finds himself in a dead end job. That soon after a promotion, Val decides to try to commit suicide in the restroom. Val is perplexing, with the simple thought of wanting to get this deed over with. He’s absolutely the more serious of the two characters. But much like his friend, he’s equally broken — suffering the hurt from those people that should have helped him growing up.

My favorite part of the film was Kevin (Christopher Abbott), a lonely guy who has seen his fair share of mistreatment by high school bullies and being in the adoption system when he was young. In the upcoming films to screen at Sundance, and include performances from Christopher Abbott, this was by far my favorite of his. Abbot breathes the most life into this film with his incredible characterization of Kevin. There’s something so endearing about Kevin’s personality that you immediately connect to. The realities of this cruel world are amplified through his story. The trauma he experienced culminates mostly from the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of someone that was supposed to protect him. He’s tragic, but adds the majority of the humor to the film. With the added humor of his sarcastic one-liners, the story feels more human by displaying the multitude of emotions that lay within us.

There’s something so simplistic about On the Count of Three. But in the same regard, something so complex. The complexities of these characters run throughout the film from the beginning up until the very end. It’s intriguing storyline, along with its amazing direction and endearing performances, easily made this film my second favorite from the Sundance Film Festival. On the Count of Three’s display of such vulnerable characters and the varying emotions that rest in our hearts, gives the audience an introspective view on the pain someone feels and that ultimate breaking point.

On the Count of Three

Directed by: Jerrod Carmichael

Starring: Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbott, Henry Winkler, J.B. Smoove, and Tiffany Haddish

Rating: A-