‘Yes, God, Yes’ thrives in the awkward

Natalia Dyer in Yes, God, Yes (2019)

Yes, God, Yes (2020)

Directed by Karen Maine

Anyone who has been to a church camp will agree that “Yes, God, Yes” gets it exactly right. The movie, from writer/director Karen Maine and based on her 2017 short film of the same name, is about Alice (“Stranger Things” standout Natalia Dyer), a naïve Catholic high schooler who discovers sexuality and strives for a healthy relationship with sin. Most of the movie, set two decades ago, takes place at a church camp, where—without a phone or AOL Chat—Alice struggles to deal with her newfound desires.

As I watched the scenes at camp—with small groups you don’t get to choose, counselors who are all way more into God than you are, and strange songs you never want to hear again—all of those feelings of awkwardness came flooding back to me. “Yes, God, Yes” thrives in the awkward…it’s inescapable, no matter how uncomfortable you are and how badly you want it to go away. Rarely does a moment pass when you don’t cringe at what’s happening or what is inevitably to come. That’s just the lane this movie is content to stay in—it portrays those feelings very well, though.

Natalia Dyer, who also starred in the short film version of the story, is a natural fit. Maybe her experience working on the short helped her get into the right head space, or maybe she’s tapping into her own awkward teenage years (we all had them). Nobody else made much of an impression, though. Ultimately, “Yes, God, Yes” is like the poor man’s “Lady Bird”—both films about an inexperienced Catholic girl considering her future as she tries to figure out her relationship with lust. Obviously, the 2017 Oscar-nominee is far superior, but “Yes, God, Yes” is a fun film (and under 80 minutes long).

5/10

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