On the Count of Three movie poster
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On the Count of Three
On the Count of Three movie poster

On the Count of Three Movie Review

I saw someone tweet that On the Count of Three is what you would get if you let the Safdie brothers make Bottle Rocket, and since I’m not original enough to come up with my own highly accurate comparison, I’m going to steal that statement and run with it.

A vibrant and energetic crash course that straddles the line, or in reality zigzags, between comedy and drama, On the Count of Three marks the feature debut for director Jerrod Carmichael, who also co-stars with Christopher Abbott. The movie begins somewhat chaotically, but by the time the dust settles and the end credits roll, you realize it’ll leave a mark on you, an emotional scar of the best kind.

Both stars are great, but Abbott is especially fantastic as a frenetic, out-of-control young man who lurches forward on every emotional whim with utmost abandon. When you know you’re going to commit suicide at the end of the day, why bother with rules, laws, or emotional attachment? Abbott gives the kind of performance that will be widely regarded among festival goers and film critics alike, but, like the movie itself, won’t receive the mainstream attention he deserves.

The most impressive part about On the Count of Three, though, is how the movie, written by Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch, successfully though certainly not delicately handles the top of suicide while staying true to the film’s promised tone. The movie is about two friends who have made a pact to kill each other (each too afraid to take their own lives), and yet it somehow avoids the heaviness of the subject without shying away from it.

While not necessarily “my kind of movie,” On the Count of Three is a well-made, unpredictable joy ride toward death that puts all of the talent involved on full display. And yes, sure, it’s sort of like what would happen if the Safdie brothers made Bottle Rocket.

This movie was reviewed as part of coverage of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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