Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

Director: Sydney Freeland
Writer: Shelby Farrell
Stars: Missi Pyle,  Danielle Nicolet,  Rachel Crow

I have to put my hands up and say I went into this film with my eyes shut. I wasn’t familiar with the actors that much (apart from Sasheer Zamata, Missi Pyle and Tim Blake Nelson), nor the director (Sydney Freeland) or the writer (Shelby Farrell) the title “Deidra and Laney Rob a Train” gives you everything you pretty much need to know in plot terms but having looked into this movie further I was intrigued by “why” Deidra and Laney had to Rob a Train.

The movie begins pretty much with their mother “Marigold” played by Danielle Nicolet ending up in jail for vandalising a television, resisting arrest and I’m sure a few punches went in the direction of the law too. Why? Well at this point it wasn’t explained to the audience, all I knew was that I was interested to see what and why this had happened and I have to admit I was pretty sure they weren’t going to go into the chain of those events. Marigold has two daughters Laney (Rachel Crow) and Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) and a young son Jet (Lance Gray)

Whilst Marigold is banged up in the slammer it is Deidra who carries the burden as legal guardian to look after her younger siblings and to top it off requires $11,000 to bail her mother out of prison. It is established early on in this movie that the character of Deidra has a lot of potential to go on and do something with her life. This is highlighted in her chats with Ms. Spencer (Sasheer Zamata) who is the Principal of the school and can see Deidra making it to college if she could improve her attendances, which have been dipping of late.

Deidra watches some News footage of a recent robbery on a train that her drop out Dad “Chet” played by David Sulllivan shows her (only because he makes a background entrance to the news report). Something triggers an idea in Deidra’s head that could solve all their problems…..Robbing a Train.

“Deidra and Laney Rob a Train” is set in a non-descript town that appears run down and the modern world has overtaken the local. It is also indicated that no one goes to college or even community college for that matter. Most of the population seem content on living out their lives where the beauty pageant competition appears to be the highlight of everyone’s year.

Sisters Deidra and Laney are vet different in nature with the elder sister Deidra being an overachiever in school and Laney being angst filled who is bullied quite a bit and is even forced into competing in the beauty pageant against her will and up against her one time friend. Ashleigh Murray and Rachel Crow shine in this great little film from Netflix and for their ages both show maturity in different ways throughout the story and stand up to be counted when it matters. Portraying two young girls struggling to survive and find a way to bail their mother from prison is no mean feat.

Murray in particular shares a heartbreaking scene with her on screen mother Marigold played by Danielle Nicolet. After pushing her mother too far Nicolet explains what happened that day she was arrested and to be honest the story will move you and explain and justify her actions on a mother who just want to do her best for her kids. Murray, Crow and Nicolet are the stars of the movie and are supported by David Sullivan playing their Dad who to be fair adds some comedic value to an already funny cast. Sullivan playing the drop out Dad who finally comes to the rescue of his family although unrealistic just adds to the story and he plays the part well.

Director Sydney Freeland does a great job in keeping an over the top plot grounded and of course writer Shelby Farrell deserves credit for the development of the characters and the storyline. Freeland’s style I felt at times wasn’t Movie like and more like My Name is Earl. Particularly in the scenes involving Sasheer Zamata and Ashleigh Murray which looked and felt out of a sitcom. That’s not a criticism in any means but the tones were obvious, well at least to me.

Overall “Deidra and Laney Rob a Train” is an enjoyable 90 minute movie that will engross you and keep you interested for the duration of the film and the cast is great. I recommend giving this movie a go as I’m sure will get some enjoyment out of it.

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