Deidra and Laney Rob a Train
Directed by Sydney Freeland
Released March 17, 2017
Movies that describe actions are often isolated to one specific event that transforms characters. In this case, it’s not just one verb or one character, but two protagonists performing an action. For them, it’s not a one-time thing, but rather a decision to start something that turns into a repeated process, something that does in fact change them and sets their life on a different course. This creative comedy presents a fun look at one solution to survival that two young sisters come up with which leads to unexpected developments presented through an enjoyable and entertaining ride.
After a meltdown involving the destruction of property outside the electronics store where she works, Marigold (Danielle Nicolet) is arrested, leaving her three children to fend for themselves at home. Deidra (Ashleigh Murray), the class valedictorian, already acts as a mother figure of sorts for her younger sister Laney (Rachel Crow), who struggles with popularity, and brother Jet (Lance Gray). With no help from their deadbeat father Chet (David Sullivan), Deidra hatches a plan to start robbing trains to sell goods to pay their mother’s bail and keep current on their bills, which attracts the attention of a relentless railroad cop (Tim Blake Nelson).
There is a sweet simplicity to the illegal behavior that Deidra and Laney begin to engage in, which begins with determining what trains run when and bringing along the proper tools to cut through the locks that guard each car. Their school attendance isn’t as consistent once they begin their extracurricular activities, but that doesn’t stop Deidra from being her guidance counselor’s great hope for success and Laney from doing her best to fit in to the beauty pageant in which she’s advanced, earning the contempt of her former best friend who had her eyes set on winning the contest. These sisters are just trying to make ends meet in a particularly bizarre situation that demands a bit of ingenuity and unlawful behavior on their part.
Murray and Crow are both superb as the determined sisters, delivering mature and endearing performances. Nicolet is a standout of the supporting cast as their animated, expressive mother, and both Sullivan and Nelson have fun with exaggerated roles. The film’s script is fun and its styling appealing, and there’s actually a good deal of drama to be found here, best represented in two particularly evocative scenes that summarize the film’s story and themes. I was sad to miss this film when it premiered at Sundance and I’m very happy to now recommend it to anyone with a Netflix subscription to check out when it makes its streaming debut on March 17th.