“On the Count of Three”

4 STARS

A suicide pact between two friends sets the tone of the dramedy “On the Count of Three,” directed by Jerrod Carmichael. If a murder-suicide doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, never fear. Carmichael adds just enough dark humor and heart to this tragic bromance to give his violent tale a wonderfully original voice.

Val (Carmichael) feels like a helpless and hopeless failure. He just backed out of proposing to his pregnant girlfriend (Tiffany Haddish), and a lame promotion at his boring job has pushed him over the edge. He’s ready to end it all, but not without the help of his equally depressed best friend from childhood, Kevin (Christopher Abbott), who is currently undergoing treatment in a mental facility after his own failed suicide attempt. Vale goes to visit Kevin and ends up breaking him out for the day. Soon after, he flashes a duffel bag stuffed with a pair of loaded guns and pitches a plan for the two to shoot each other in the face when night falls.

It’s a gloomy premise for sure, but at the heart of the film is a solid story of friendship. Kevin and Val are (quite literally) ride or die buddies who have a genuine admiration for each other. They spend time deciding what to do on their last day on Earth and, since they aren’t going to see tomorrow, they settle on living the rest of the day enjoying the fact that they’ll face no consequences for their actions. This gives Kevin the idea to pay a visit to a therapist (Henry Winkler) who abused him as a child so he can finally settle some unfinished business. Ready to once again experience the joys of living for only a brief moment, the best friends become a couple of suicidal vigilantes who make the most of spending one last day, together.

Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch‘s screenplay features whip-smart writing and memorable dialogue, which incorporates nuggets of street-wise wisdom with just the right amount of nuanced empathy for their characters. I have fallen head-over-heels in love with their writing after seeing this film. The story could’ve gone South very quickly, but it works on so many levels. Val and Kevin aren’t portrayed as sad losers, but as two men who grow to appreciate their last few hours of existence. Their relationship and discussions feel genuine.

“On the Count of Three” is a little rough around the edges, but Carmichael displays a lot of confidence in his directorial debut. This is the type of film that will stick with me for a while.

By: Louisa Moore

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