Sundance 2021: On the count of three | Festivals and awards

The film’s airtight storyline, by Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch, begins with the center hook of two friends ready to shoot each other – their common goal is to die at the end of the day. “I think about it all the time,” admits Val (Carmichael) after Kevin (Christopher Abbott) sees the guns. “It relieves me.” He’s just released Kevin from a psychiatric ward, after Kevin tried to kill himself with pills a few days earlier, and Val feels that means Kevin will make him a solid and die with him. It’s the type of darkness the movie is filled with from start to finish, and Carmichael knows audiences will always be able to squint and see the comfort of two pals who love each other. He neither overestimates the immense heaviness, nor the chosen pieces of light that shine through and give “On the Count of Three” its vital dynamic. Carmichael has mastered the opposite balance of heavy and light material with his underrated and thoughtful sitcom “The Jerrod Carmichael Show,” and with his feature debut, he shows just how capable he is with a 90+ tone. minutes.

“On the Count of Three” is propelled by its targeted cause-and-effect plot – we don’t know what they’re going to do with their time, especially after Kevin balks at shooting Val (he just needs a few hours of more ). Kevin has the idea of ​​killing a doctor who wronged him as a young boy, and Val, being the supportive friend that he is, walks with him to the reception of the person. Carmichael films the moment in one shot, from Val’s Jeep, in the building, in the elevator and in an office. The shot is more showy for its length than its athleticism, but it’s an effective way to slowly build up the tension and give us more of their incredible joke, two components with which this film blossoms until its very last. intense climax. It’s then revealed that Kevin’s target won’t arrive until later today, giving Kevin and Val a more set schedule. First they’ll live a little longer, then they’ll shoot the doctor, then they’ll die. As simple as that.

There is so much to love about this movie, starting with the chemistry between Abbott and Carmichael. They blend their energy onscreen to create a hilarious and instantly observable duo, their deep friendship established by the opening images of themselves taking to shoot each other in the face. Of the two, Abbott’s very sensitive Kevin brings more intensity than Carmichael’s mute Val, the duo come and go between who wants to die the most but also who is the most irritated. And with Carmichael’s brilliant sense of tone as a director, the story sprints into the darker places of his ideas about mental health and depression – key topics that are barely touched upon in the film, as the guys Barely verbalized it themselves. And then boom – Carmichael or Abbott hit it with a perfectly timed piece of dialogue, based on their characters’ neuroses, and the big laughs give us time to catch our breath.

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