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Review: Yes, God, Yes (2020)

Yes, God, Yes (2020)

Directed by: Karen Maine

Premise: A teenager (Natalia Dyer) attending a Christian high school struggles to reconcile her faith with feelings of sexual awakening. She attends a weekend retreat with her fellow students and encounters new temptations.

What Works: Yes, God, Yes is a comedic look at sexual awakening and the movie handles the struggle of its young protagonist with sensitivity and good humor. This is a story about the tension between spiritual idealism and carnal desire and the resulting guilt and confusion. Yes, God, Yes stars Natalia Dyer as a wholesome young woman who has bought into the expectations of her religious community but she is the target of scandalous rumors. The filmmakers do an effective job conveying female desire and Dyer is game in the role. The actress is put in some frank sexual situations and Dyer is willing to make her character ridiculous while keeping her empathetic. The young woman’s confusion and frustration are palpable in Dyer’s performance. She eventually discovers truths about herself and others that shatter her idealism. Yes, God, Yes presents her disillusionment in ways that are funny but mostly feel authentic and the strongest portions of Yes, God, Yes are those emphasizing the young woman’s coming of age.

What Doesn’t: Yes, God, Yes has a lot in common with the 2004 picture Saved! but Yes, God, Yes is in many respects inferior that film. Saved! presented a variety of characters ruined by impossible moral standards and those people were allowed complex characterizations in a story that was poignant and nuanced. Yes, God, Yes deals with many of the same ideas but gives them less consideration. Most of the supporting characters are one dimensional and the religious authorities, namely a priest played by Timothy Simons, are hypocrites and little else. The religious culture of the high school and the activities at the retreat are mostly pushed into the background. This diminishes the most potentially interesting parts of the story. Early on, Dyer’s character violates a retreat rule and she is assigned to kitchen cleaning duty. This is apparently a long weekend because Dyer’s character spends a lot of time in that kitchen; the repeated cleaning scenes come across as lazy writing. Yes, God, Yes doesn’t really interrogate concepts of religious purity or what they do to people or whether they represent worthwhile ideals. Instead the picture concludes on a generic speech in which Dyer’s character broadly spells out the themes of the movie. 

DVD extras: Currently available on Netflix.

Bottom Line: Yes, God, Yes sports a compelling central performance by Natalia Dyer but the film is superficial and underwritten. It entertains some provocative ideas but the film only deals with them simplistically.

Episode: #831 (December 20, 2020)