Freeze Frame: “On the Count of Three” (R), “Operation Mincemeat” (PG-13), “Happening” (R)

Is it possible to find comfort in mutual desperation? The extremely edgy comic drama “On the Count of Three” dares to explore that thorny question in a story about two friends who make a mutual suicide pact. Jerrod Carmichael and Christopher Abbott are excellent, full stop, as lifelong friends who decide that life’s challenges aren’t worth enduring. There’s a LOT going on in this ultra-dark tale that manages to find humor and moments of truth while walking an ethical tightrope. Although it doesn’t all work, “On the Count of Three” marks a strong directorial debut for Carmichael.


“Operation Mincemeat” is an entertaining cloak-and-dagger WWII drama starring Colin Firth and directed by John Madden of “Shakespeare in Love” fame. It’s based on the bizarre true story of an outlandish effort on the part of British intelligence to fool the Nazis into defending the wrong territory…by using a planted corpse. The stalwart supporting cast includes Kelly Macdonald, Jason Isaacs and Penelope Wilton. The film spends more time on the problematic interpersonal relationships of these Brits than it does the intricate spy story, but “Operation Mincemeat still a sharply produced and workmanlike melodrama.


Although it’s set in 1963, the stark French drama “Happening” couldn’t be timelier. This painfully realistic film from director Audrey Diwan, concerns a bright young college student, well played by Anamaria Vartolomei, who is faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Carrying the child would mean giving up her studies and her career dreams while ending the pregnancy could mean prison. The ugly and dangerous options she explores make this film as much an unnerving chiller as it is a stark social commentary. “Happening” is a nightmarish exploration of a controversial subject.

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