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Review: Teen wrestles with sex and religion in coming-of-age comedy 'Yes, God, Yes'


Just say 'Yes' to writer-director Karen Maine's tender debut feature

Adam Graham  |  Detroit News Film Critic

The note-perfect "Yes, God, Yes" is told with care and compassion, and is like a warm hug to anyone struggling with identity issues, religion, sexuality or their place in the world. 

First-time director Karen Maine — she wrote "Obvious Child" — based the film on her own short film of the same name, and she keeps the story tight and lean. "Yes, God, Yes" tells a rich, fully realized story in just 77 minutes; there's no sense in padding a story that doesn't need it.  

Alice (Natalia Dyer, "Stranger Things") is a Midwestern teen at the turn of the millennium, when blink-182 was ruling the airwaves and the magic of MP3 players still needed to be explained. She's raised Catholic and attends a strict Catholic high school, the kind where rulers are deployed to measure the length of students' skirts and coming up an inch short could mean detention.

One night Alice is on an AOL chat session that turns unexpectedly racy, and it leaves her with all sorts of questions about sex, self-pleasure and how she's judged in the eyes of God.

A trip to a Catholic retreat only confuses her further, and she finds herself dealing with the hypocrisy of her retreat leader, Father Murphy ("Veep's" Timothy Simons, flawlessly cast), her counselors and her friends, all while seeking to suppress the hormones raging inside her.  

Dyer turns in a gentle, wide-eyed performance that compliments Maine's delicate touch and sympathetic storytelling. This is a story of teenage innocence and religious guilt, and it's told in a smart, warmhearted manner, without turning sarcastic or cruel. "Yes" and is an obvious yes. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Yes, God, Yes'

GRADE: B+

Rated R: for sexual content and some nudity

Running time: 77 minutes