#Film Review: Netflix’s Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (2017)


This new comedy released a few days ago addresses poverty in the US in a way I have not seen yet. In that, the film combines a sad reality of two girls left to fend for themselves with humour and a happy end.

The reason Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) and Laney (Rachel Crow) are left to fend for themselves is because their mother Marigold (Danielle Nicolet) had a nervous breakdown, which lead her to smash property in the electronics store in which she worked thus far. As we will learn towards the end of the movie, she lost it because she had a car accident (due to being tired from working too much), and since she caused the accident she had to pay for the insurance cost. As a result, she lost all college money she saved for her brilliant daughter Deidra. Two sisters are then left to fend for themselves and look out for their younger brother. As bills pile up and Deidra (as an older daughter) cannot cope with them anymore, an opportunity arises to start robbing trains to bail mother out of prison and pay bills.

While the film narrates robbing adventures of two sisters, it also portrays high school life in a similar way as all other US movies that portray this aspect of the US society. In that, this film also has an evil popular girl who wants to be the beauty queen just that in this movie an evil girl is not a slim blonde (as was the usual stereotypical presentation of evil popular girls with ambitions in beauty and entertainment world was so far), which is a positive feature of this film that does not push for traditional beauty stereotypes. Indeed, for way too long the US popular culture was teaching us how girls need to look to be considered beautiful.

This film is, however, very much similar to US Shameless just that protagonists are not white. This can be another point of appraisal for the film, because Latino mother is portrayed as a victim of the society. Nevertheless, a villain is the ex husband, a white American blue-collar worker Chet (David Sullivan). The school is clearly in the poor area with poor educational attainment, yet Deidra is as brilliant as Lip (Jeremy Allen White) was in Shameless.

The only aspect of the movie that left me feeling uneasy is the fact Deidra and Lainey get away with robberies and play a detective on his previous violent conduct, i.e. they provoke him to react aggressively to “prove” he is unfit for the job. While all aggressive behaviour should be condemned no matter whom is it coming from, I still dislike the fact they were successful in it because this can send the wrong message. As Lip states in one episode of already mentioned US Shameless, you have to play the system if you are poor. While this may be the truth, I still do not like an encouragement from the popular culture, nor do I appreciate a call for manipulation to avoid consequences for a felony.

Thank you for reading.

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