On the Count of Three (2022) review – Jerrod Carmichael’s directorial debut masterpiece

By Ricky Valero
Published: May 11, 2022
film On the Count of Three (2022)


On the Count of Three is a top to bottom masterpiece.

This review of the film On the Count of Three (2022) does not contain spoilers. 

At the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, On the Count of Three had its debut. Almost 17 months later it is coming out and so, today I can finally review my favorite film at that festival. 

I love you, you are my best friend. 

The movie begins with a standoff. Kevin (Christopher Abbott) has a gun in his hand pointed at Val (Jerrod Carmichael) and Val has one pointed back at him. On the count of three, they will pull the trigger and kill each other. One, two, we transition to early in the day.

Kevin is at a mental institution where he is noticeably struggling with his visit from the doctor and what she is saying. As the doctor asks Kevin many questions, he finally has enough and snaps at her. Kevin calls out the system and how they would have already fixed him by now if they really wanted to. Next, we meet Val, who finds out that he’s getting a promotion at his dead-end job. He realizes how much he hates the job and attempts to kill himself in the bathroom and is unsuccessful as someone walks into the bathroom. This moment ignites something within Val that makes him quit his job.

We move to the mental institution where Kevin is and Val tells him he is breaking him out and does. We pick up right where the film began, where Val tells him that it’s time for them to kill themselves together. One, two, a shift from Kevin and the gun goes off, but neither is hurt. Kevin isn’t ready to end it quite yet and they make a pact to kill each other in the next 24 hours.

I didn’t know I had to send a save the date for a double suicide.

The friendship, even brotherhood, between Kevin and Val only works because of who is playing them. Jerrod and Abbott give the best performances of their career. The delicacy of the script isn’t easy to bring to life. You have two men living out the final moment of their lives before they kill themselves. Add in a layer of comedy that is often dark, and you have an incredible amount of layers within each of these characters they have to bring to life. 

The script is so deep. What Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch do with this film is nothing short of perfection. It is one of the most well-written original scripts we have seen recently. They capture mental health, a broken system, friendship, and suicide so perfectly that it breaks you down to your core. In addition, they do a beautiful job of emotionally connecting every essential dot that makes you empathize with both of these characters. Mental health is such a touchy and complex subject to tackle in film, especially from a male point of view. For most of us young boys, we are told to suck it up or “you can’t cry, be a man.” You hear it over and over again and when you get a little vulnerable, you get called names. It isn’t easy expressing yourself or your feelings. I can’t thank them enough for writing such an impactful film about mental health surrounding men.

It hurts to be ignored.

Kevin delivers these words to a cashier at a gas station and I’ve never felt so much in five words delivered by an actor in a film. You can hear the pain in his voice. It wasn’t just this moment that led him to say this. It was the culmination of years of not being listened to. On the Count of Three is a movie about being seen and heard and how much not being acknowledged can affect us.

This film culminates in a beautifully shot and heart-racing last half hour that really showcases Carmichael’s brilliant work behind the camera. You almost can’t believe that this is Carmichael’s directorial debut. Every frame, every shot, every moment feels important, and, with his guided direction, he translates that to us. The ending is poetic in a way that rips you to pieces. I genuinely think this is one of the best movies of the last decade. It’s an incredible film from start to finish with powerful writing, performances, and a knock-out directorial debut by Jerrod Carmichael.

What did you think of the film On the Count of Three (2022)? Comment below. 

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