There is hardly a niche in the market for comedies about teens having a hard time in high school – Netflix pretty much has that side of the film industry covered. We know the drill: rumours fly and spread out of control, threatening the good name of the protagonist. In Yes, God, Yes, the (fake) news is that Alice has engaged in the sexual act of “salad tossing”. So far, so Easy A. But when you take into account that Alice attends a strict Catholic school, writer-director Karen Maine’s debut feature starts to shake off those post-John Hughes clichés.

Maine’s film is as simplistic as it needs to be. Delving into the uncomfortable subject of sexual maturation with the added complication of religion, Maine chooses to question the strictness of the practice, and doesn’t go after the religion itself. Alice’s struggles take centre stage, and it is charming to see her sheer impulsivity, acting first and letting the consequences catch up with her later. It is refreshingly truthful and rare to see a younger character so well rounded onscreen.

Natalia Dyer is quite remarkably well cast, able to showcase an extraordinary range past what might be expected. With a perpetual air of innocence and shyness, Dyer displays the perfect concoction of frustration and the fear to let this show. Maine’s characters are well built, though they seem to operate more as plot steerers than characters in their own right, and so come off as a little basic. Timothy Simons is particularly strong as a hypocritical priest, allowing the comedy of the situation to show when necessary.

The film strays into didactic and predictable territory towards the end, and what should feel gratifying falls flat. Still, Yes, God, Yes is smart and honest, avoiding Hollywood tropes and favouring veracious character development. Though the stakes are hardly enormous, Maine ably shows just how high they are for Alice.



CAST: Natalia Dyer, Timothy Simons, Francesca Reale, Alisha Boe

DIRECTOR: Karen Maine

WRITER: Karen Maine

SYNOPSIS: As a vicious rumour spreads around her strict Catholic school that Alice has performed a taboo sexual act, she desperately tries to comes to terms with her newfound sexual interest, and what it means in the eyes of God and her peers.