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On the Count of Three Quick View; Grade: B

On the Count of Three tells a story about a couple friends Val (Jerrod Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbott) whom both want to end their lives. So these two will go on a last epic hooray, as they'll be encountering troubles in their past, while having a care free farewell before they end their lives for good.

Here I thought this film was going to be featured on my Weekly Roundup: Then a couple pages later happened.

Annapurna… Remember that film company?! That gave us a lot of gems in cinema: Her, Missing Link, Booksmart, The Sisters Brothers, Zero Dark Thirty… I can name a few more, but man I do miss that company popping up in the opening credits.

This newest Annapurna produced film comes from comedian Jerrod Carmichael, whom is most known for his Television series The Carmichael Show, a very underrated television series that excelled on comedy while also it’s clever take on everyday social commentary. This is Jerrod Carmichael’s directorial debut, as what better way to make your grand entrance in a feature film… By making your first film an extremely dark comedy, that has to deal with suicide?! It’s a very bold unique choice for a first feature, which is why I hope Carmichael finds his way back in cinema sometime in the future, as this was an impressive debut!

This film felt like an accurate portrayal of what one’s mind goes through, in a mental state of having suicide tendencies. Your mind is filled with pain, a constant state of angst, and of course having a mind full of unnecessary vengeance against people. Like both characters Val and Kevin: Being in a mental state in which you’re determined to end your life, is somewhere no one wants to be in nor wants to wish on anyone. You’re way too out of control, as not only can you hurt your own self, but can seriously hurt other people in the process as when the mind is in that dark place… You suddenly suggest harming others isn’t such a bad idea since you’re on your last resort. Carmichael doesn’t water down on this subject matter at all, it brings us a realistic approach to this subject matter, as it doesn’t shy away into bringing a severely dark unstable atmosphere because that’s exactly what it’s like to be in this state of mind.

Both characters were extremely well written, as they both played a difference in the reasoning what one’s mind can experience of having thoughts of suicide. Val comes to the idea of ending his life, simply due to the fact he feels his life has no moral purpose in continuing on. He works at a dead end job that every single day is exactly the same as it’s a never ending repetitive cycle, while also feeling not good enough to be with his current girlfriend Natasha (Tiffany Haddish) simply due to being insecure that she’ll get bored of him, by not providing nothing new to share about in his life. 

While we can certainly address that suicide is not the answer in this case, however we can understand why one like Val would become severely depressed which escalates in developing suicidal thoughts. When life becomes too repetitive especially in the work place, one can be drawn with the conclusion of what’s the point in living at all if life has nothing new to offer?! Repetition can severely effect one’s mental state, it can also bring out a lot of insecurity as your confidence level in impressing or satisfying a woman can be extremely low as well. I feel it’s a feeling many of us have all gone through in the workplace, the solution really is to come up with a well executed plan to move onto something better like a fresh start, and I also think the workplace should be understanding in helping someone when they come to experience this state of mind as well.

Kevin comes to the idea of ending his life, due to severe trauma he’s dealt with in the past. Kevin back when he was a child and his teenage life: He’s been terribly mistreated by others, in ways in which leaves us heartbroken. Both incidents are truly disgusting as what is done to Kevin, which one can understand why one like Kevin is in a severe state of wanting to end his life. The level of trauma Kevin is currently carrying is extremely difficult to overcome, no matter the medications or the therapy sessions… Helping an individual like Kevin to see the light in life is nearly impossible, especially when Kevin has experienced a broken system in the self help line of work.

In a way I can relate to Kevin: When I was on summer vacation back in 2013, I was going through severe depression where my chances of committing suicide was at an all time high. When I addressed my family I didn’t want to talk about my life, as I was trying to recover from my severe mental state of mine… Two members of my family literally mocked out my pain, in the room I was staying in, as when they left the room I broke down in tears crying my eyes out. So when that sequence of Kevin getting joked around about the pain he endured, when a douchebag from high school hit him with his truck, as he and his wife laughed along at his pain… I understand that feeling of frustration, anger, and sadness Kevin responded afterwards.

You feel extremely sympathetic for a character like Kevin: He’s simply a severely broken individual, that just wants someone to listen, understand, and genuinely care about his feelings. People say “Well he should go to another therapist” the thing people don’t understand is that severely broken people, especially one like Kevin can not be healed nor saved by therapy. Severely broken people like Kevin can feel even worse by the idea of paying someone to be there for him when they need it the most… Does Kevin’s life only matter unless you’re given a worthless piece of paper?! No matter how you look at it: Someone’s life is worth more than a piece of paper, so when someone addresses that they’re in severe pain where they want to end their life… You should be more willing to help that person because you want them to feel like their life matters, people want to feel genuinely cared for from the heart and for whatever reason is a difficult thing to ask for from most people.

The film clearly shows the differential cases of one coming to thoughts of being suicidal. Like Val there are cases that are in the moment that can be worked out, as like Kevin there are cases that are extremely severe that NEED a lot of time, effort, and a lot of genuinely caring individuals to help him one through it.

There are a couple sequences of social commentary. There is social commentary about gun control as while I loved the line “Guns make insecure people be absolute in power”... I can’t help to think it was too in your face. Like it needed to be subtle through showing rather than just screaming to the audience, as there are many sequences where Kevin and Val screamed out their stance on the subject matter, which can feel like someone hitting you over the head. Needed to be more tamed and subtle.

The other social commentary which at first compared the likes of the gun control, where Kevin screams out Val’s race as how hard it is for Val to be an African American. However: The social commentary expressed here is more about victimhood, as I felt it was nicely done. Val is going through a rough time obviously, however it has nothing to do with his outside appearance at all. But since Val is in this terrible state of mind: Kevin tries to make Val feel like a victim, like his distressed as to do with his experience of being an African American. You can clearly see every single time Kevin addresses this: Val continually gets annoyed with Kevin, as he keeps telling him to shut up. Those with Mental Health issues by any race don’t want to hear about victimhood, they just want to be treated like normal human beings because the problems they’re going through are problems everyone goes through. So people should try to shy away how they think people should be feeling, as they should try actually communicating so they can clearly understand what seems to be the problem.

The story is engaging from start to finish, as our main characters are well written, but also the dialogue displayed is witty and matured. I felt the humor displayed when presented was solid, there is some quality dark humor in this film, but also delivers a great laugh out moment in the finale featuring Donny (Lavell Crawford)... That was a hilarious sequence, followed by an epic motor bike chase scene. Also felt both Jerrod Carmichael and Christopher Abbott delivered both great performances, very emotionally riveting plus great chemistry as well. The ending may turn some heads especially with the final shot, but I felt the ending was nicely done. Won’t spoil it, but sometimes it could perhaps tie in with the whole what one’s mind feels like in that critical state as well.

Overall, On the Count of Three was a dope film. I highly recommend this film, not for everyone but it was a striking profound watch indeed. Also feel the need to thank Jerrod Carmichael: For not displaying a warning sign before showing your extremely dark comedy film! -Mitch Smietana

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