The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Digital] - YES, GOD, YES | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review [Digital] - YES, GOD, YES

yes god yes review
A teenage girl struggles to supress her libido while on a Catholic school retreat.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Karen Maine

Starring: Natalia Dyer, Alisha Boe, Wolfgang Novogratz, Francesca Reale, Timothy Simons

yes god yes poster


Not so much a coming-of-age comedy as a cumming-of-age comedy, writer/director Karen Maine's feature debut Yes, God, Yes is an expansion of her 2017 short of the same name. Natalia Dyer reprises her role as Alice, a Catholic schoolgirl struggling to reconcile her horniness with her religion's puritanical view of sex.

yes god yes review


The main reason mainstream American cinema is so sexually repressed, particularly when it comes to female sexuality, in comparison to the rest of the western world rests with the Catholic church. Throughout the silent and early sound era, Hollywood didn't shy away from portraying women as sexually voracious creatures. Some of the movies Barbara Stanwyck made in the early 1930s still have the capacity to ruffle conservative feathers. But with the growing influence of the Catholic Church in America, Hollywood was forced to change its ways when priests began telling their flocks to steer clear of cinemas. Almost overnight, sex was removed from American cinema, and wouldn't make a return until the late '60s. The '70s saw a revival of movies in which women owned and enjoyed their sexuality, but in the '80s this was replaced by misogynistic, male-oriented sex comedies in which female sexuality was once again viewed as something men should fear.

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Fitting then that a female-centred sex comedy should play out against the backdrop of Catholic induced repression. It's bad enough that when you're a teen your body starts to change in strange and startling ways, without having a bunch of celibate men telling you that you should be ashamed about all these new thoughts and sensations you're experiencing. Like most 16-year-olds, Alice is constantly inflamed with thoughts about sex, but she's largely repressed them. That is until a chance encounter on an AOL chat room (the movie takes place in 2001) leads to Alice getting into a steamy online chat with a stranger.

yes god yes review


Somewhat ashamed of her online romp, and with rumours around school that she "tossed the salad" of a male classmate, Alice signs up for a four-day retreat. Gathering a bunch of horny teens in one place for a long weekend sounds counter-productive, and rather than getting away from her impure thoughts, Alice finds herself lusting after hunky jock Chris (Wolfgang Novogratz), repurposing her cellphone as a makeshift vibrator and using a priest's computer to sneak into chat rooms.

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Dyer is certainly a star presence, and despite being in her mid-20s, she's fully convincing in the role of a confused young woman a decade younger. Anyone wary of Catholicism and its creepy obsession with young people's sex lives will certainly find themselves sympathising with her plight, and there are more than a few laughs generated from the attempts on the part of her teachers and priests to dissuade the youth from the sins of the flesh. Timothy Simons is often hilarious as a stuffy priest whose reductive teaching methods include comparing male sexuality to a microwave oven that heats up instantly and female sexuality to a convection oven, which takes longer to reach the right temperature.

yes god yes review


But the laughs are cheap, and the digs at the religious sometimes come off as mean-spirited. Maine's view of Catholics is devoid of nuance - they're all either brainwashed zombies who repeat mantras or they're hypocrites who are sneaking off to watch porn or engage in oral sex with classmates at any given opportunity. Much like those Christian themed movies that play so well in the US, Yes, God, Yes exists simply to reaffirm the worldview of its audience, in this case secular liberals. Like most Irish people of my generation, I have a distrust and dislike of Catholicism, but some of the most enlightened and intelligent people I've ever met have been practicing Catholics. Maine's film dismisses Catholicism as no more than a scam, a cult filled with people fooling themselves. As an atheist, it's easy to view the religious in such narrow terms, so I'm glad that filmmakers like Schrader, Tarkovsky and Malick exist to question my assertions about the devout. I'll take a challenging movie from a filmmaker whose beliefs I don't share over a cosy, unquestioning piece of liberal propaganda like Yes, God, Yes every time. While it provides some one-dimensional and one-sided laughs, Yes, God, Yes is ultimately little more than a secular sermon.

Yes, God, Yes is on UK Digital from August 17th.




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