SXSW 2019: YES, GOD, YES Mixes Awkward Sexuality and the Divine

Teen comedy takes on adolescence under devout circumstances

Puberty is tough on everyone, but when it must be reckoned with inside of a strict Catholic high school, the entire affair gets even more complicated. In Yes, God, Yes, we see a young woman coming to grips both with faith and her own body in a confused but authentic way.

Natalia Dyer (Stranger Things) might be 22 years old, but she plays the barely pubescent lead of Yes, God, Yes to a teen tee. Watching a young person learn the pleasures of masturbation is bound to be awkward, and Dyer pulls it off perfectly. Recounting much of the story of writer and director Karen Maine’s sexual awakening as a young, devout Catholic, the film has unique take on the coming of age story.

After starting off with some high schools scenes filled with gossip and lunch trays, the action shifts to a retreat center as the movie morphs into a quasi summer camp flick, but one with a lot more Jesus. While the religiosity might be heavy the vibe is light. Dyer’s Alice navigates her newfound arousal all while keeping up pious appearances.

The trouble starts when Alice stumbles upon an internet perv via AOL. The movie is set in the early aughts, after all. With exposure both to a hyper-sexed troll and pornographic images, things stir in Alex.

Once she gets to camp, things don’t get any easier. Her senior group leader Chris (Wolfgang Novogratz) is all smiles and arm hair, an injection of masculinity that bowls over young Alice. She also has a best friend who just wants to be popular and isn’t there for Alice when she needs support the most.

Maine’s biggest accomplishment to this point has been as the writer of Obvious Child. With Yes, God, Yes, she proves herself adept at direction, too, harnessing the collective talents of her cast with aplomb. The story might be hers, but she manages to make it feel like it belongs to all of us.

Yes, God, Yes is a coming of age tale with a fantastic mix of holiness and hormones. While not everyone will relate to a childhood under such heavy religious pressure, audiences will love the strong performance by Dyer and the wincing humor throughout. Yes, God, Yes is not teen raunch movie, but it is a fantastic exploration of one woman’s blossoming into adulthood.

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