Those who have grown up in religious backgrounds very well know much of a trying time it could be. Upbringings full of traditions and various degrees of strictness can be tough for many. Clearly this theme is ripe for coming-of-age stories and this has been the case for a long time. Yes, God, Yes is the latest religious-themed coming-of-age story that will surely appeal to the subset of sexually repressed Catholic youth (former or current) for which there are many. While these themes have definitely been covered before in other films, what truy sets this one apart is a sharp script that allows us to connect to and relate with the story and its central protagonist using some hilarious and perhaps shocking dark comedy. However, that latter aspect will definitely be a contentious point for some viewers as it challenges those so called norms and traditional values in ways that may not be easy to watch for some without ever getting gratuitous. In the end, even with an extremely short running time of 78 minutes, it succeeds at what it’s trying to do, resulting in one of the most compelling experiences of the year.
Yes, God, Yes follows an innocent Catholic high school girl named Alice (Dyer) in the early 00s who found herself stumbling onto the world of sex and masturbation after a seemingly harmless online chat took a turn for the worst. Suffice it to say that the unknown that was the tidal wave of new urges and feelings that suddenly came over her was not easy to contend with. Since we don’t get to know much about her home life, viewers get a true glimpse of the gravity of her situation when its is seen through the lens of her uber strict Catholic high school (which came with its own set of issues) which in turn did not necessarily make things easier for Alice. Her high school was for the most part how one would imagine an uber strict Catholic high school would look like as it instilled the usual traditional values while most other things were pretty much a sin. All of this was a fine tightrope which Alice seemed okay with until her newfound urges were added to the equation.
Though its normal for young people to find themselves in such a way at the high school stage, this obviously went against her teachings. At the end of the day, it was a high school and teens were going to be teens so similar rumblings were there for the most part though there was only so much that could be done. Meanwhile, the film plays up the contrast between those polar opposite worldviews in a subtle yet hilarious way (due to the benefit of hindsight). Despite it’s darkly-comedic approach, Yes, God, Yes still forces viewers to question their faith alongside Alice. What makes it work so well was because she was so relatable and compelling to watch thanks to that innocent and naive perspective. Over its short running time, the film still covers plenty of ground while delivering a satisfying character arc that saw her try to understand her urges and also find herself in some trouble during a weekend high school retreat.
Though the sharp script and steady direction deserve to be lauded, the best part of Yes, God, Yes has to be Dyer’s workhorse performance as Alice. This film would easily have not have worked if not for her as she carries the narrative with her likability and relatability as the young teen. She makes it easy to connect with her on an emotional level as many viewers will see themselves in her. As the only significant character to be had, the film puts a lot of trust in her and she definitely does not disappoint. Meanwhile, Simons and Novogratz were solid in supporting roles as Father Murphy and a retreat leader named Chris respectively.
Overall, Yes, God, Yes will certainly not be for everyone but at least it will be done in a flash which should not be an indictment by any means.
still courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
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