ON THE COUNT OF THREE
TWO STARS A black comedy-bromance about two suicidal men who make a pact to kill each other.
DRAMA US #ONTHECOUNTOFTHREE
Starring Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbott
A story that opens with two men trying to shoot each other while declaring their unconditional love has got to be compelling, right? Uncomfortable, but compelling. ON THE COUNT OF THREE, a pitch-black comedy about a suicide pact, is certainly that. But keep the number for Lifeline handy, this could be triggering (pun intended).
Val and Kevin are friends who, for different and equally valid reasons, have had enough. Both have tried to kill themselves and failed. They conclude the best way to resolve all their problems is to shoot one another, on the count of three. That almost worked until Kevin decided he needed one more day to resolve some issues and so begins an unlikely journey, a road trip of sorts, to finish unfinished business before they die. Less ‘visit the Grand Canyon’, more ‘kill the peadophile who molested me as a kid’. Like I said, pitch black.
How funny or entertaining you find this well-crafted film resides entirely on how funny or entertaining you find the premise, and the characters. Actor-director Jerrod Carmichael and co-star Christopher Abbott give it all they’ve got and nail the script-writer’s intent. Comic realism is a fine line to tread and they hold course; it’s neither mawkish nor morbid, melodramatic nor maudlin. So bonus points there. Thing is, their dramatic swear-fest is, by the end, not all that funny nor that entertaining.
At the heart of this intentionally messy film are two somewhat unlikeable men who make it tricky to land this film in any meaningful way. They’re hurting but their behaviour makes it hard to buy into their pain, and any dramatic conclusions they arrive at don’t feel especially profound. Endless swearing could have something to do with that. It may be credible but it’s also tiresome which is not the emotional take-out you’d hope for from a story about suicide.
ON THE COUNT OF THREE is primarily a twisted bromance given an edgy framing device. To Carmichael’s credit, he never allows that to feel exploitative but with so many, many reasons to dislike Val and Kevin, finding an access point into their world is difficult. Crack the code and the film could open up. Without that key, you might find yourself on the phone to Lifeline.