Review: Acting Chemistry Enhances (Very) Dark 'Count to Three'

Review: Acting Chemistry Enhances (Very) Dark ‘Count to Three’

There’s black comedy, and then there’s real black comedy, and On the Count of Three is perhaps even darker.

“On the Count of Three” is billed as a “dark comic film”. Well, there’s black comedy and even blacker comedy, and then there’s comedy that’s so dark that you wonder if those two words can actually coexist in the same sentence.

So it’s unclear what genre to put this starkly self-confident, albeit uneven and unsettling directorial debut of talented comedian Jerrod Carmichael, a film about buddies that opens with said buddies pointing loaded guns at each other with the intent to fire at the same time (hence the unsettling title)

It is clear that everything will not go according to plan, because then there will not be a single film left. But, just a warning: the feeling you might get right now and there of “I’m really not sure I can watch this” will likely stay with you for the full 86 minutes, even if you acknowledge the considerable acting chemistry Carmichael created. , directed by himself and Christopher Abbott.

So, back to that scene. This happens after a few hours of a gloomy winter day covered in film. Without revealing too much, Val (Carmichael) and Kevin (Abbott) are longtime friends, but very different paths led them to this dreary parking lot. Val works in a landscaping store and his best prospects seem to be in promotion to floor manager. He starts this working day by taking all the smoke breaks allotted to him, and this is not a good sign.

Val decides to visit Kevin, and suddenly they are inadvertently given the opportunity to break Kevin out of the institution he is in. Thus begins the day when they both try to right the wrongs made against them, and possibly some of them. did it themselves.

The script, written by Ari Kutcher and Ryan Welch, attempts to switch between humor and pathos, frivolity and desperation throughout the game, with occasional hits and some misses. (That’s quite a challenge, even without broader references to issues like police racism and gun control.) What’s consistent is the unnerving unpredictability – we really don’t know how this day will resolve itself – and the authenticity of the lead actors who make us feel excited, even as we struggle to accept certain elements of the plot. Without these well-defined performances, the film would have failed.

Every person is given unresolved conflicts, some more pressing than others. Val, in a relatively subdued performance by Carmichael, who certainly has a track record of humor in dark places thanks to his comedy, is in serious trouble with his estranged father (JB Smooth from Curb Your Enthusiasm). his inability to be the responsible partner of Natasha’s gullible girlfriend (Carmichael Show colleague Tiffany Haddish, underused in a small role).

As for Kevin, played more broadly by Abbott, he has a deep anger towards the man who now serves his country in the army and bullied him in his youth. Even worse, there is a creepy doctor who molested him in his youth. (Henry Winkler plays the unfortunate medic).

Unsurprisingly, Carmichael turned out to be a director who is insecure and comfortable with the UNCOMFORTABLE. He keeps the action in motion – at some points the film even feels like an action movie. The climactic scene has an apocalyptic vibe and visually harks back to one of the most famous buddy movies in American cinema, even though the buddies were named Thelma and Louise.

But it’s the acting that keeps the film going. Carmichael is a multifaceted talent and it’s interesting what he’ll do next, especially if his name is on the script next time.

On the Count of Three, a United Artists Releasing release, received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America “for violence, suicide, common language and some sexual references.” Duration: 86 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

MPAA definition for R: Limited. Under 17s, an accompanying parent or adult guardian is required.

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