Rounding out the latest month of Blog Free or Die Hard is another Netflix original, selected entirely on its own merit. And not at all because it was so easy to find and stream on both sides of the pond.
Deidra and Laney Rob a Train
Where to Watch:
The Uncondensed Version:
Deidra and Laney are teen sisters who act like parents to their younger brother Jet, pick their mom up from work, and try to find ways to keep the family afloat financially. The 2 sisters are managing to keep scraping by until they find their mom having a very public meltdown at work with screaming, the police dept, and destruction of expensive Good Buy property involved. Through bad luck and shady insurance practices, her impulsive mistake is considered an act of domestic terrorism (WTF) and bail is set much higher than the family can afford to pay.
After years of hard work and stress, their mother Marigold is quite relieved to relax in prison. Adulting is hard, man, and Deidra seems to be a more natural head of the household. This feeling, of course, is not shared by the rest of the family, who can’t find the money to pay the bills, let alone bail or Deidra’s imminent college expenses. It looks like college may no longer be an option as Deidra misses class and college deadlines to manage things at home and come up with ways to earn quick cash.
Meanwhile, Laney is having a miserable time at school as she has been selected to compete in a beauty pageant (that appears to replace actual class…?) against her best friend. Her friend Claire, feeling threatened by Laney’s participation, sets out to make her life miserable.
After much time spent stressing, Deidra gets an idea from the rather shady men in (and absent from) her life. Her father, Chet, who prides himself on knowing when the family doesn’t need him, is a train mechanic. He obliviously explains how modern-day train robberies happen, not realizing he is providing a catalyst for Deidra’s plan. When Deidra’s ex mentions his side hustle selling just about anything he can get his hands on, the pieces fall into place and a crime spree is about to begin.
Both Deidra and Laney are in on the plan, and the two sisters become closer than ever. However, tensions are high as Deidra’s dream of college seems to be slipping away, Laney pins her hopes on the pageant yet feels very alone, Child Protective Services suspects Deidra isn’t cut out to be the head of the household, and the fuzz is catching on to the robberies.
To everyone’s surprise, their father steps in to cover with CPS and do what he does best—plan petty crimes and destroy evidence. This may be too little too late, as a persistent railroad security employee, Truman, is determined to crack the case. Shit hits the fan when Truman puts 2 and 2 together on the night of the pageant, and Chet decides to take off.
How can this possibly end well for our titular train-robbing teens? You know the drill.
3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
Largely because Deidra and Laney are so cute and incredibly real. I could especially relate to Laney re: awkward/insecure teen years…and, you know, the whole beauty pageant scene (lol).
The acting is convincing even if the characters aren’t always–Deidra’s guidance counselor being presented as sympathetic while pushing her own agenda over Deidra’s best interests really grated on me, as well as Chet playing the role of dirtbag with a heart of gold father.
This film has a lot of heart, but some of its sweet moments are emotionally manipulative AF. It suffers from an uneven tone, simultaneously attempting to tackle serious issues while offering soothing reassurances to the viewer that it will all be okay. The film frequently undermines its own ideas, and wraps things up much too neatly for my tastes (even though I was rooting for our leading ladies the whole time).
There is quite a lot of consideration of fate vs. free will throughout, which remains persistently upbeat. This is one of my major beefs with the film, as it ultimately seems to reinforce the narrative that hard work and individualism pay off. Though Deidra and Laney resort to robbing trains, it’s emphasized that their resourcefulness, determination, and clever planning earns them opportunity. Am I bumming you out? I sense that I’m bumming you out.