Review-Lite: Yes God Yes (2020)

Natalia Dyer in Yes God Yes

Nobody wants to talk about sex, at least with the people that might actually know something about it. Throw on top of that devout Christian values and a educational system unwilling to treat it with the respect and normalcy it deserves, instead considering it sacreligious and sacred in equal measure, finding your way to any kind of answers is next to impossible. Following catholic schoolgirl Alice (Natalia Dyer), a god fearing girl contending with puberty and the advent of the internet in the early 2000s and the various new avenues for sexual exploration. Following a rumour that spreads across school she is encouraged to attend a camp to bring her closer to God and further from the answers she needs/wants. It’s a simple premise and at first glance Karen Maine’s film looks like a charming but flawed sex comedy but the more it goes on, the less interested in sexuality it becomes, instead becoming a feature consumed by the idea of how individuality is crushed within institutions such as the church in favour of people willing to follow and obey.

The joy of Yes God Yes doesn’t lie in the comic moments, they are few and far apart in a feature that declares itself a comedy, instead it is in how it brings a voice to people instead of just their beliefs. Alice is worth following for a streamlined 80 minutes because watching her fight against what is expected in favour of individuality is an uplifting message in a film that doesn’t want to chastise religion, instead show there is a middle ground between having faith and believing blindly. It’s normal in a teen movie to talk about being lost, finding your way but here the obstacles feel new, Dyer gives voice to lingering thoughts buried at the back of Alice’s mind with a physically bound up performance and Maine’s semi-autobiographical script hones in on the pressures of fitting in and maintaining your ‘purity’ in an environment of judgement turned up to max. Maine’s film feels like a discussion with a past that still feels relevant today where being yourself and making your own mind up is quickly becoming taboo again and yet it finds a light hearted and endearing way to remind you that being yourself and disagreeing with something isn’t necessarily a bad thing, even if grown ups tell you it is.

TSR

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