South by Southwest 2019 is on! The directorial debut from “Obvious Child” co-writer Karen Maine is a window into the hypocritical, judgmental, and wholly entertaining world of Catholic high school junior Alice (Natalia Dyer of STRANGER THINGS fame) as she discovers agency over first her body, then her mind.
In YES, GOD, YES, Alice’s worldview is controlled by the strict Catholic school administrators (including Donna Lynne Champlain and Timothy Simons, both hilarious proxies for the Church that fulfill and complicate their archetypes). But since it is the early 00’s, she has access to a variety of other messages via an AIM chat room. Alice’s high school would have her believe that “boys are like microwaves” and “girls are like ovens” — the latter takes longer to get hot. But when an online stranger sends Alice some racy photos, it doesn’t take long for her to feel the urge to explore her body.
Portrayals “self-love” in contemporary media are frequently the territory of pubescent boys, used as a stock comedic device — the trope of the teen walked in on by his mom. YES, GOD, YES nods to this history but turns it on its head. Placing this story in the body and mind of a female, Catholic teen reveals the more complicated truth of what it means to seek and receive pleasure and the nature of guilt.
God and one’s ability to be “pure” are fundamental in Catholicism, the act of confession practically a masturbatory act in itself — the sweaty, selfish act of relieving one’s sins followed by the sweet, orgasmic release of forgiveness.
Alice’s journey through this film tracks her ability to decide for herself — from what turns her on, to what churns her stomach with guilt. For fans of coming of age stories, this is an excellent choice. For fans of the sex scenes in TITANIC, it’s a must-see.
YES, GOD, YES, written and directed by Karen Maine. Starring Natalia Dyer, Timothy Simons, Wolfgang Novogratz, Francesca Reale, Susan Blackwell, Parker Wierling, Alisha Boe, Donna Lynne Champlin.