Sundance 2021 Festival Movie Review – On the Count of Three

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My Favorite Movie at Sundance

This was my favorite movie at Sundance this year.  It has a dark premise and comes with a major trigger warning.

(Seriously, if you’re thinking of harming yourself please use the crisis text line instead of seeing this film, or even reading the rest of this review).  But I found it to be a deeply funny, touching, emotional story about friendship, mental illness, and the value of life.  Two friends agree to a suicide pact.  At the end of the day, they will shoot each other.  But first, they decide to have one good last day together.


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On the Count of Three is the directorial debut of Jerrod Carmichael, who also stars in the film. Carmichael is known for his acclaimed sitcom The Carmichael Show.  His co-star is Christopher Abbott.  This is the first movie I’ve seen Abbott in but it won’t be the last.  His fierce, emotional performance captivated me.   The chemistry between the two actors is unbelievable.

What I love about On the Count of Three

The movie has one of the best opening scenes of all time.  It really grips you by the throat and pulls you into the film.  Who are these two friends and why have they promised to kill each other?  What has led each of them to this point?

As much as I dreaded the ending of this film, I greatly enjoyed the journey and got swept up in it.  Then I dreaded the ending because I wished the movie could just keep going.  I didn’t want to say goodbye to these characters.

This is one of the funniest, most original scripts I’ve seen in a while.  (Well, at least since Palm Springs which debuted at last year’s Sundance.)  It has sharp dialogue.  It’s cathartic.  I’ve dealt with depression and suicidal ideation, and some of the things the two main characters say are so relatable.  And it feels empowering to hear someone say them.

The supporting cast of On the Count of Three

The supporting cast is the icing on the cake.  Tiffany Haddish, Lavell Crawford, J.B. Smoove, and Henry Winkler are all people we associate with comedy or comedic characters.  Here, they each get a chance to shine in more dramatic, unexpected, and, in some cases, darker roles.  Each of them are at the top of their game and they bring something unique to the film.

Final thoughts on On the Count of Three

I can’t wait to see this movie a second time and fall in love with it all over again. Annapurna Pictures hasn’t set a release date yet.  While I know it’s a long shot, I’d love to see Carmichael and Abbott both nominated for Oscars. This was one of the films that set the bar high for 2021 for me.

It was the first movie that made me think, “I’m going to spend the rest of the year trying to find another movie this good.”

Grade: A

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1 thought on “Sundance 2021 Festival Movie Review – On the Count of Three”

  1. I have had my own issues with depression and worse, but I really want to see this one. Palm Springs was my fave movie of last year…maybe this will be mine for 2021. Great review.

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