On the Count of Three [7/10]

The opening scene of “On the Count of Three” frames the entire film in a way that every movie should. Val, a super troubled young white man (played with wonderful subtlety by Jerrod Carmichael, who also directs the film), coming down from a suicide attempt, stands facing his longtime bestie, Kevin (Christopher Abbott in full flight), a black man reeling from love and work issues. They point guns at each other and begin counting, toward “on the count of three…” And then begins what should be a depressing road trip toward a dark fate, but which turns out to be sparked by savage humor and laced with underlying optimistic strength. Essentially, a two-actor morality play, On the Count of Three eschews grand drama for scene-by-scene gritty verity, and if it never crescendoes as one might ultimately hope, it beautifully doubles as a glimpse into depression and the redemption of friendship. A dark, slow-burn minor-key gem.

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