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  Yes, God, Yes One Is Fun
Year: 2019
Director: Karen Maine
Stars: Natalia Dyer, Timothy Simons, Wolfgang Novogratz, Francesca Reale, Susan Blackwell, Parker Wierling, Alisha Boe, Donna Lynne Champlin, Matt Lewis, Riley Hough, Paige Hullett, Tre'len Johnson, Tisha Renee, Allison Shrum, John Henry Ward
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Alice (Natalia Dyer) is an innocent teenager who attends a Catholic school where keeping the kids innocent is part of their remit. But even they have to broach the subject of sex, though they couch it in parameters that say in no uncertain terms, if you have sexual thoughts outside of marriage, and worse, if you act on them, then you have damned yourself to Hellfire. Alice is growing a little curious about sex nevertheless, which makes it unfortunate that everyone in school wants to make her feel ashamed of that curiosity, even to the extent of spreading a rumour that she has tossed the salad of one of the other students. She would probably be a lot more horrified if she had any idea what that meant, but as it is, her only experience comes from an accidental chatroom incident...

Karen Maine had made this as a short film already, but expanded it to fill a seventy-eight minutes that flew by, so much so that some could complain it was too brief to get a proper handle on. Yet if you could attune to that breeziness, you would find a bracingly honest look at masturbation in the same style as her script for abortion comedy Obvious Child had been. If that combination gave you the vapours at the merest idea, then this was not the movie for you. But perhaps if more kids of Alice's age saw it, they wouldn't feel so bad about indulging as the puritanical would tell them it was, and not be so quick to slam those others who did precisely what they did but were not prepared to admit it, and worse, were keen to victimise anyone who had even the slightest hint of a sexual thought.

The central plot had our heroine attend a religious camp where everything is supposed to be positive and happy-clappy, but actually is about as healthy as the New Age werewolf self-help group from The Howling. Reminiscent of the likes of But I'm a Cheerleader, only without the gay focus of many of those films, Yes, God, Yes exposed its characters as having guilty little secrets that they are intent on highlighting in other people to attain the moral high ground, and although this was by and large a sweet, sympathetic comedy drama, it did not pull its punches whenever it detected how nasty and hypocritical its pious characters became. This made their downfalls, while not particularly cruel or devastating, undeniably satisfying since they were another step on the road to the blameless Alice accepting herself and her sexuality.

When you see her object of erotic fixation is the hairy forearm of a strapping counsellor she knows from school (he's around her age) then it's a nice shorthand for how little she knows and how appealing she can be, and Dyer pitched this at exactly the right balance between lust she didn't know what to do with, and misery thanks to the judgement that assails her on all sides. She has to spend most of the movie not being sure of what she has been accused of that worse, everyone else believes, even the staff at the retreat, so the moment where she finds out thanks to a kindly bar owner (Susan Blackwell) she happens to meet is incredibly disarming: "Oh, is that all?" And that was the tone of the whole piece, that everyone is making a fuss about something everyone has done, yet they are moved to pick on those who are not as in with the in-crowd as they are, so basically, so what if you masturbate? It doesn't make you special, it certainly doesn't make you a freak, so why shouldn't you have a bit of alone time fun? Maine's open-minded approach served up one of the most refreshing indies of its day. Music by Ian Hultquist.

[Yes, God, Yes will be available on Digital Download from 17th August and can be pre-ordered from iTunes by clicking this link.

Also available on: Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Sky Store, Virgin Media, Rakuten.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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