Movie audiences have long been watching coming-of-age sex comedies engineered by and for the male perspective. But the forthcoming Yes, God, Yes—a semiautobiographical film from Karen Maine, cowriter of Obvious Child—flips the script, telling a story of sexual exploration from a young woman’s point of view.
In the film, Stranger Things star Natalia Dyer plays Alice, a “good” Catholic teenager whose burgeoning sexual urges fill her with such guilt and shame that she attends a religious retreat. But an encounter with an unexpectedly candid mentor (Susan Blackwell) opens her eyes to the complicated truth around a subject society has deemed taboo. Think Saved, but centered on female sexuality and with Veep’s Jonah (Timothy Simons) heading up the religious retreat.
Speaking to Vanity Fair in anticipation of the first trailer—shared above—Dyer explained how she related to her character’s journey.
“I grew up in the South going to a religiously inclined school,” said Dyer. “I remember the similar ways of how women’s sexuality, women’s bodies, were talked about, or not talked about. For me reading the script was really almost cathartic in a way, like, Oh, my gosh. Yes. I think that’s exactly the kind of stuff that I would want to see onscreen…We are so flooded with male-gazey versions of female sexuality. This female-oriented exploration is important.”
A lonely Alice struggles to understand a subject her peers (and teachers) don’t discuss. “It’s a very natural thing that goes on in most everybody’s body,” Dyer said, “but you kind of have no idea. No one ever guides you through that. I really love stories and examples of women showing women how to be women in a very healthy and self-loving way, which I don’t think we have a lot of on film,” she added.
Dyer spoke to Vanity Fair about Yes, God, Yes several months after Netflix shut down production on the fourth season of Stranger Things due to the coronavirus pandemic. Careful not to spoil too much about her character Nancy Wheeler’s new trajectory, the actor would only say that Nancy is “still going in that direction of growing into herself, and her mind, and her beliefs.”
Nancy and Alice, her Yes, God, Yes character, are similar in one regard: “They’re both women who are curious, who have sort of strong convictions, even though a lot of people, especially men, around them are telling them, essentially, ‘Oh, no. That’s not a thing. Don’t worry about that.’ They’re both really in touch with that gut intuition about finding the truth.”
Yes, God, Yes will premiere in select drive-ins and virtual cinemas on July 24, before launching digitally and on VOD on July 28.
By Julie Miller, Vanity Fair