27 September 2023

On the Count of Three

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Jarod Carmichael, Umbrella Entertainment.

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” — Dan Millman

An inspiring mental health quote to bring attention to a challenging topic that adeptly tackles a sensitive issue. The film is also a splendid portrayal of life-long friendship, mental balance, the character involved in maleness and an application in abreaction.

Mental health is important at every stage of our life, from childhood, adolescence and right through adulthood. It includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices.

Making his directorial debut, Jerrod Carmichael also stars in On the Count of Three, a darkly comic feature about two best friends, Val (Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbott), on the last day of their lives.
Uninspiring thirty-somethings, Kevin and Val decide that the only way forward is to end things altogether – together. With a suicide pact scheduled and guns loaded, they stand eye-to-eye, pistol-to-temple.

At the last-minute, however, a bid for more time and closure forces Kevin to pull out of the pact at the final moment, suggesting that they enjoy one more day before calling it quits on life.

What follows is a wild ride of flawlessly standardised grim humour and exposition on the weight of impermanence.

In the opening frames Kevin (with disconsolate eyes) is seen pointing a gun at his best friend Val, who, in turn, also aims a fatal weapon at him. That’s the image that lingers as an essential illustration long after we see the film getting progressively out of control.

Their agreement was to commit suicide in tandem – to shoot one another in the head – so they can forsake this world at once. The last-second change of heart brings them to a convincing realisation about their final hours on terra firma. So, they commence a road trip to the end, having made that conclusion that results from melancholy distress. Behind their numerous spur-of-the-moment stops is a purpose: to obtain vengeance from those they consider accountable for the pain they’ve suffered.

This tragi-comedy is awash with disordered candour about the drabbest darkness found in the human condition. So much so that it’s easy to nearly miss the shrewdly compulsory things said about race, gun control and even homosexuality.

Just have to remember: “There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.” — John Green

  • On the Count of Three will be in select cinemas from 29 September 2022

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