Though we are drastically different human beings, I trust my sister more than anyone else on this planet. Despite the fact that we are only two years apart in age, our life experiences have often been worlds apart. I’ve frequently felt stifled under the weight of responsibilities and decision making (our lives drastically changed the year I turned twenty, and she turned eighteen), and I suspect that she’s often felt cast aside and misunderstood. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that other siblings, particularly sisters, have had similar experiences. In her witty and amusing second feature film “Deidra & Laney Rob a Train,” filmmaker Sydney Freeland highlights these aspects of sisterhood, the desire to escape, and the overbearing weight of an unclear future.
Shot almost like a comic book come to life, we meet Deidre (Ashleigh Murray) and Laney (Rachel Crow), teenage sisters living with their mother Marigold (Danielle Nicolet) and younger brother Jet (Lance Gray), somewhere in the middle of Idaho. Deidre, the eldest, is fiercely determined to use her brain to escape her tragically white and dull town for college. A consummate perfectionist, she rigidly plans out her entire life on three calendars that account for her tutoring sessions, the test answers she sells for extra cash, and her scholarship deadlines. In contrast, her younger sister Laney is angsty and often overlooked both at home and in school. Painfully shy in the face of anyone that is not her family, she and Deidre are often at each other’s throats, having throw down knock out fights to settle their disagreements. (Perhaps it was so amusing because I have literally been there.) Despite the chaos of their daily lives, the Tanner sisters seem to be trudging along until life blows up in their faces.
After suffering a breakdown and destroying merchandise at her place of employment, the Good Buy discount electronic store, Marigold finds herself behind bars. With no other source of income and as the only Tanner sibling of legal age, Deidre is forced to come up with a solution to keep child protective services off her back and to bail her mother out of jail. In need of $12,000 and a whole new weight of responsibilities on her shoulders, Deidre’s dreams of higher education suddenly fizzle into the air.
Desperate for a solution to her family’s financial woes, Deidre begrudgingly visits their deadbeat but charming father Chet, a mechanic on the railroads that run behind the Tanner home. Though Chet only offers up five dollars, Deidre is inspired to begin robbing trains. Enlisting Laney’s help, the girls hatch a legendary and nearly fool-proof plan of stealing merchandise off the train cars and fencing it through Deidre’s weed-dealing ex, Jerry (Myko Olivier).
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