By Dave B.
The comedy Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (Netflix) follows what happens to a family when the mother is arrested following a nervous breakdown at work. Eldest daughter Deidra is thrust into the role of providing for her younger siblings in a small Idaho town. Deidra is extremely smart; she’s on track to be valedictorian of her high school and the first person in her family to attend a university. She’s also smart enough to realize that the money she makes from tutoring her classmates won’t be enough to provide for her brother and sister and bail her mother out of jail. Deidra is also a teenager, however, and therefore stupid; She enlists the help of her sister Laney to carry out an audacious plan: to rob the trains that pass their house on a daily basis.
At it’s core, Deidra & Laney is about family and what we are willing to do for them, but it’s overriding theme is focused on the question of whether genetic determinism or free will is a greater force in people’s lives. Although this may sound like fairly heady stuff for a family comedy, the film is generally lighthearted and easily digestible. It’s even funny on occasion (although not as funny as it intends to be). There are charming performances and it’s cool seeing the bond between the two charming sisters grow. In other words, Deidra & Laney is a nice, sweet movie.
My main problem with the film is that, despite having a fairly intellectual theme, the film rejects one of the core pillars of the determinism vs. free will debate: that if free will is the predominant force in someone’s life, they must accept accountability for their actions. At times, Deidra & Laney feels as if it goes out of its way to make it clear that it doesn’t accept that pillar at all. That makes it feel emblematic of caricatures of modern Western society: all rights and freedoms, no responsibilities. I don’t know if this messaging is intentional or not, but for viewers who see that type of philosophy as problematic, Deidra & Laney may feel shallow at best and deeply misguided at worst.
Overall, I enjoyed the film while it was on and didn’t develop my reservations about its messaging until after I had the opportunity to digest what I watched. For that reason, this will be a mixed review. I recommend watching Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, because the characters are likeable and the movie is heartwarming and marginally funny. But I’m giving it a relatively low rating because it’s presumably unintended message just didn’t sit well with me upon reflection.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.