“Yes, God, Yes” is an indie Netflix original made available in late October 2020. The film is set in the early 2000s, when the internet was full of mysterious chat rooms — the times when a good ole’ AOL instant message chat with a stranger was the ideal pastime. This is what leads Alice, the movie’s main character, to have her first sexual awakening.
Natalia Dyer (Nancy from “Stranger Things”) plays 16-year-old Catholic teenager Alice, a girl who experiences her first “turn-on” as she rewinds her VHS to the scene from “Titanic” where Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet make the car windows get all steamy — you all know what I’m referring to.
Alice thinks she is condemned to hell because of her urges which she is unsure how to satisfy. At school, she is plagued by a nasty rumor about her “tossing someone’s salad” (check Urban Dictionary if you’re curious), a term she has never even heard of before. She turns to the all-knowing internet to ask a stranger on AOL what this phrase means. Much to Alice’s naiveness, the chat turns into consensual cyber sex. Several days later, she attends a lake-side church retreat in hopes to save her soul from her doomed eternal life.
At the retreat, she finds her newfound urges too intolerable to ignore. She is taught not only that sex before marriage is an absolute “no no” but also that masturbating is a fast ticket straight to hell. Later, a scene in a lesbian bar — featuring the talented Susan Blackwell — provides a nudge of secular common sense.
The film takes a slight dig at religious babble and hypocrisy. These urges as a young hormonal teen are completely normal, and it’s very important for religious young people, especially women, to understand they are not alone and there is not anything wrong with their natural feelings.
“Yes, God, Yes” is not a laugh-out-loud comedy. I saw it more as a dark humor film due to the combination of the self-judgement and guilt of the negative views of masturbation in Christianity and its charming accuracy of growing up in the early 2000s — a very strange era.
The movie lacks momentum in some ways and can seem quite boring and slow-paced at times. I was expecting a much more classic teen comedy but was pleasantly surprised with its artistic flair and ulterior relatable aspects. It gently criticizes what our culture has turned faith into, which can make teens feel alone and judged during their time of a natural sexual awakening.
Oddly, the movie was deemed a confusing R rating when there is no nudity, no naughty language and nothing too racy or raunchy. It is a sincere film about a girl getting all twisted up because of the mixed messages passed down to her. The R rating may deter the very young people who are likely to relate to it the most. The movie fights back with an engaging edge and an overwhelmingly innocent tone.
Director Karen Maine did a great job of making this quirky indie teen film feel relatable and genuine, showing every aspect of all the natural embarrassing thoughts and feelings teens have growing up. The film reached high popularity when it was released, earning one of the Top 10 spots on Netflix.
“Yes, God, Yes” is by no means a typical high school sex movie though. It is a very charming coming-of-age story about how feeling “turned-on” is okay, and how hellish it is to have to live in a reality that would make hormonal young people, especially young women, feel otherwise. Growing up, the pleasures of self-pleasuring might seem ambiguous, but they’re never, ever to be shameful.