Spoilers will skip the penitence.
There’s an endless resource mine of premise content in going back a couple of decades to see how naive and counter-productive religious indoctrination can be. Of course, it didn’t start then and it certainly hasn’t stop now. To clarify, I don’t completely write off faith. I just believe (pun intended) you shouldn’t turn off your mind. Don’t ever let other people, regardless of their clergy title, define your beliefs for you. I tend to mistrust organized religion for that very reason. Anyhow, rant over. Let’s get on to the review.
Yes, God, Yes (2020) was written and directed by Karen Maine. It stars Natalia Dyer as Alice, a naive and devout catholic girl that discovers the evils of pleasuring oneself while being online. Meanwhile, a rumour has ruined her image in her ultra-conservative catholic school. Wrecked by guilt, she goes on a spiritual retreat that only seems to expose how hypocrite and funny the people that judge her can be. This is coming-of-age comedy where the laughter does not come from religion, but from judgemental people who have no idea how to run their own lives telling the young how to run theirs. Okey, I might have a slight bias here.
Alice is not mean. She is, however, curious. It’s all a personal journey to her, as she breaks out of her shell and discovers her own kinks. It’s not a surprise that the people that are supposed to guide her tend to be lost as well. Father Murphy (Timothy Simons) seems to be well-intentioned but he’s also ready to condemn those who stray from “God’s Plan” for all eternity. Alice’s best friend Laura (Francesca Reale) seems to be on her side, but she’s ready to condemn her based on the rumour alone. And then there’s Chris (Wolfgang Novogratz) who seems to have it all figured out as a camp counselor. His reaction when Alice acts on her huge crush on him is just adorable.
Eventually as Alice starts learning the secrets of everyone in the supposedly exemplary spiritual retreat. The film never particularly condemns anyone, but it’s obvious that guilt and judgemental attitudes are just misguided. Alice will end up getting her best advice from an outsider (Susan Blackwell). It never gets down to a searing expose on the evils of Catholicism, as a matter of fact that the harshest criticism given barely amounts to a slap on the wrist. It also never devolves into a completely raunchy comedy, which works in its favor. There’s no exaggerated caricatures of personalities here.
Highly recommended for a frank, if perhaps light, look at religion and its funny quirks. There’s a lot of nostalgia with old PCs with bulky monitors, AOL internet chat rooms and first generation cell phones in the mix. Casual audiences should have a blast. There’s barely anything that should scandalize or raise anybody’s eyebrows. I guess conservative audiences that can’t stand anything but praise for religious education might feel offended, but I’d say religion gets off light here. Fortunately, so does Alice.
That will do for now.