Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (2017)

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train
Director: Sydney Freeland
Writer: Shelby Farrell
Cast: Ashleigh Murray, Rachel Crow, Lance Gray, Danielle Nicolet, Arturo Castro, Gage Bradley, Nick Moceri, Sasheer Zamata, Missi Pyle, David Sullivan, Tim Blake Nelson
Seen on: 7.3.2021

Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) would like to worry about her college applications and how she can possibly afford to college in the first place. But instead her mother Marigold (Danielle Nicolet) is arrested and Deidra has to worry about paying bills, and taking care of her younger siblings Laney (Rachel Crow) and Jet (Lance Gray). Her dad, railway worker Chet (David Sullivan), is of no help, but when he mentions how easy it is to rob trains and how nobody gets hurt by it because everything is insured, Deidra starts making plans. But she needs Laney’s help for it to work.

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train is a fun, entertaining film that moves along at such a brisk pace, you almost miss the very serious and critical core that lies beneath all those entertaining bits.

The film poster showing Laney (Rachel Crow) and Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) standing back to back with their arms crossed.

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train could have been a thriller, or at least lean on the scarier parts of creating a criminal empire while being a teen, but instead, it focuses on humor. I think that is a wise choice, because it gives Deidra and Laney more of a chance to get away with everything – and that’s very much what I wanted. Also, it is just more fun.

As is so often the case with teen protagonists, Deidra and Laney are wonderfully fleshed out characters, while the adults in their story are much more stereotypical. Still, like with the story, there is more to them than just tropes (this falls a little flat with the social worker who feels like a joke at the expense of fat people and nothing more). Nevertheless, this is the girls’ film and Murray and Crow are both fantastic.

Jet (Lance Gray), Laney (Rachel Crow) and Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) with their father Chet (David Sullivan).

With all the shenanigans, it is easy to lose sight of the harsh truths that are part of the film, too. How a single unexpected expense can be a real threat to a poor family. How quickly it is to fall off the right path when you just don’t have all that many options. How hard it is to believe in yourself, in change, in anything, really, when things are always this close to falling apart. How unjust the (legal) system is. And how important family is in any case.

I really enjoyed that mix between light-hearted fun and important message and I thought that the film pulls it off with an impressive ease. I’m looking forward to what else Freeland will make.

Laney (Rachel Crow) and Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) making plans.

Summarizing: very good.

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