I knew next to nothing about “Yes, God, Yes” when walking into my screening of the film, which opens at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center this weekend. I hadn’t watched a trailer, heard anything about its plot or even seen something as little as a Rotten Tomatoes score. I went in completely blind, and the experience I had was certainly interesting, to say the least.
“Yes, God, Yes” is a new dramedy starring Natalia Dyer, who also plays Nancy Wheeler in “Stranger Things,” and directed by Karen Maine. The plot of the film follows a young teenage girl named Alice who struggles to gain some sort of understanding of what her newfound sexual desires and urges are. Alice attends a Catholic high school and has received very little in terms of sexual education, and the little she has been taught has been abstinence-only.
Near the beginning of the film, Alice finds herself participating in a racy chat on AOL. She becomes fearful that her failure to resist these teenage urges will condemn her to hell for all of eternity. So, in an attempt to overcome her temptations, she decides to attend a four-day camping retreat hosted by her school. Over the course of this retreat, Alice is constantly ridiculed by her peers and the staff in charge of the retreat because of a few rumors circulating that make Alice out to be an extreme sexual deviant. However, throughout these four days, Alice begins to gain a better understanding of herself, her desires, her beliefs and the hypocrisy of those around her.
“Yes, God, Yes” is a fairly short film, clocking in at around 78 minutes, but there is plenty of drama, humor and uncomfortable situations crammed into this short runtime to ensure the viewer certainly gets a complete experience.
First of all, Alice was incredibly well-written. She’s a dynamic character who’s confused by many aspects of both her personal and social lives. This makes her a very easy character to relate to. She’s an awkward teenager who’s just trying to fit in, and Dyer was excellent in the role. The character goes through a wild ride of varying emotions throughout the film, and Dyer was able to portray all of them perfectly. Though the film does have a fairly large supporting cast, the entire story is focused on and told from the point of view of Alice, so Dyer carries the whole movie on her back. Not only was she able to do this, but she made it look easy — she was absolutely stellar in every scene.
The film also manages to strike a perfect balance of drama and humor with its story.
There are loads of different laugh out loud moments in “Yes, God, Yes.” The film has a similar kind of cringe humor to shows like “The Office,” except it’s able to be a lot racier since it’s not made for television. There are a lot of very uncomfortable situations in the movie that the viewer is not entirely sure if they should laugh at or avert their eyes from. It’s not a sense of humor that will be pleasing to everyone, but it’ll definitely evoke some sort of reaction.
As far as the drama of the story goes, Alice goes on a very complete, fulfilling arc over the course of the film. I won’t spoil the different situations that she finds herself in, but I will say that they become increasingly nerve-racking and distressing the further into the film it gets. When the film comes to a close, Alice is a very different person than she was. She gains a new perspective on life, faith and herself, and that was incredibly satisfying to witness.
The film also pulls no punches in regards to the hypocrisy of the church and school that Alice attends. “Yes, God, Yes” is a film that will likely make very traditional or religious individuals fairly uncomfortable. It’s not afraid to poke, prod and question some religious beliefs. Personally, I respect the movie even more for that. It has a story and a message that it wants to share, and it doesn’t blink its dedication to sharing it.
“Yes, God, Yes” certainly isn’t for everyone, but the people that will enjoy it will likely love it.
It’s a very well-made movie with a fantastic lead performance from Dyer. It’s able to provide plenty of hilarious moments while also maintaining the overall dramatic tone and theme of the film. I may have gone into the movie blind, but I walked out of it having had a very eye-opening, entertaining and fulfilling experience.