People who tell you that their best years were their teenage ones or that high school was the best time of their life are completely wrong and or lying to you. High school is a confusing and painful four years that 95% of the people hated depending on that person’s experience. Sexuality is something majority of us experience for the first time during our high school years, but it can be especially difficult to explore in catholic school. For one, catholic school is 1000 times stricter than say public or private.
The tone for Yes, God, Yes is set quickly from writer director Karen Maine asking the one question that would keep the human race from the apocalypse. What does it mean to toss someone’s salad? That’s what Alice (Natalia Dyer) spends the entire film attempting to find out as her hormones quickly take over her consciousness. What starts as an innocent AOL chat between her and a stranger, takes a left turn when tossing a salad comes up. Hormones flair up and not knowing what to do, well because she lives in a bubble, Alice turns to her friends who appear to have more experience than she does.
Alice cannot turn to her so called friend Laura (Francesca Reale) for the answer to her question because of rumors (ah, high school) so she figures out what her sexuality is and how to tame it on her own. This would be easy if not for the constant scrutiny kids who attend catholic school are under. Things have to be done in secret or by using code words when around adults. This is the mid 00’s where if you want to watch a more adult scene in a movie over and over, you have to rewind over and over. The scene that fire’s Alice’s neurons happens to be in Titanic when Leonardo and Kate fog up the car together.
“Guys are like microwave ovens and girls are like conventional ovens. Guys only need a few seconds like a microwave to get switched on. While ladies, they need to preheat for awhile.”
Maine’s script leaves a lot of room for the imagination to wander. She teases the audience by building up these scenes involving Alice to a climax than causing a disturbance by way of someone walking in with the fear of being caught. Teenagers aren’t really subtle, at all, nor have they mastered that skill yet so it’s easy for Father Murphy (Timothy Simons) to catch Alice in a lie or in the act of doing something she shouldn’t have. The 4-day retreat doesn’t help either as kids are in a non-school setting where anything can happen.
Teenagers have urges and desires that cannot be buried and being surrounded by woods can help. Alice’s desire comes in the form of Chris (Wolfgang Novogratz) who she immediately gets the Jim Carey Mask eyes once she lays eyes on his arm hair. It’s a weird turn on but hey, whatever gets you going, I guess. Yes, God, Yes also deals with hypocrisy and being in a catholic setting. Father Murphy for example is a complete hypocrite by preaching abstinence to the school and retreat but watches explicit material when he’s completely alone and out of sight.
Is this how catholic school operates? It’s like telling a toddler no, the more you do it, they more they want to defy those orders. Growing teens shouldn’t be judged or scrutinized because things are changing for them in every way. That’s the point of life – to get new experiences by actually living and defying the rules, to an extent. In this case its sexuality, being a teenager in the Midwest and attending catholic school. Maine finds a healthy balance by not going too overboard with sexual acts but just giving enough of a tease.
“The truth is, nobody knows what they are doing anymore than the rest of us.”
Maine also makes Alice relatable in the sense that she chooses to rebel against the adults and follow her desires instead. She doesn’t care if it disappoints Father Murphy or her friends. She just wants to be herself and ultimately that includes being free and open instead of hiding who she is. The number of sexual undertones is pretty shocking since the school and retreat preach abstinence and a closed-minded society. The amount of double entendre’s used by the adults suggest sexuality isn’t something that can be controlled. We all have urges and we all have to give into them at some point. Credit goes to Maine for easing into these situations while not coming across forcefully or overbearing. She also uses some of the imagery associated when Alice licks the pudding wrapper but there is a line and Maine knows not to go overboard.
Overall, Yes, God, Yes is a charming coming-of-age story of what it was truly like to be a teenager in the mid 2000’s. It’s risky to join an AOL chatroom and even riskier to defy the rules in a religious setting. Natalia gives a standout performance from a well written and brave screenplay. Karen Maine does a fantastic job of teasing the audience with teenage angst while not giving away the cow for free. If I were to rate Yes, God, Yes, I’d rate it a 4.5 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen Yes, God, Yes and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Yes, God, Yes is written & directed by Karen Maine is Rated R and has an 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yes, God, Yes was released on July 24, 2020 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 18 minutes. Yes, God, Yes can be streamed on Netflix.
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