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Sundance Film Festival 2021: ‘On the Count of Three’ Review

IMDB: Two guns. Two best friends. And a pact to end their lives when the day is done.

This film starts with Kevin (Christopher Abbott) being grilled by his therapist. He’d just attempted to kill himself — again. That opening scene is powerful and includes a remarkable monologue from the actor. After that, we meet Val (Jerrod Carmichael) who works at a Feed & Seed Shop. He’s getting a promotion but that’s not enough to keep him from trying to kill himself in the bathroom. This scene is a rough one but one of his co-workers walks in just in the nick of time.

Kevin is residing in a mental institute and when Val visits his friend, he decides to break him out. That’s when they decide to kill each other. They’ll finish out the day and then do the deed.

Throughout the day, they relive their young years and go dirt biking, which causes Val to get hurt. They go to a gas station to get supplies to bandage Val and this is a significant scene. It’s significant because it’s the first scene that shows the message the film is trying to convey. The store clerk asked the two men to wait while Kevin is persisting that they need the supplies. That’s when Kevin goes to the car to get a gun. When he returns, he points it at the clerk and says something striking.

With pain in his voice he says, “When a customer is talking, you listen, bro. It hurts to be ignored.”

On the Count of Three brings up mental health issues and the very real issue of our society not taking it seriously when it comes to men. This isn’t a topic that’s openly discussed and it’s what makes this film so effective along with the fact that he highlights new faces and voices. As a first-time feature film director, he captures an original idea in a thought-provoking way that challenges Hollywood’s lack of diversity by not giving us more voices like his.

This movie’s ability to explore the idea of friendship through the lens of depression is something we haven’t seen much of before. We see two grown men who have been through a lot in their lives that are able to show emotion, empathy and express their feelings. It’s a powerful thing to display in such a prominent manner.

In addition to the writing and directing of this film, the performances from our leads are remarkable. Abbott and Carmichael give two of the best performances of the year. Their chemistry was authentic and their delivery of Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch’s beautiful script took this film to the next level.

This film culminates in a beautifully shot and heart-racing last half hour that really showcases Carmichael’s brilliant work behind the camera. Although the ending will blow you away, it is worth noting that he took a risk. That risk made a good movie great.

Stay tuned for more from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. You can find all my coverage here and on Twitter.

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