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The coming-of-age comedy that's climbing the Netflix top 10

The confusion and embarrassment that comes with learning about the birds and the bees is a near-universal experience for teenagers, so it's no wonder that there are so many books, TV shows, and films dedicated to exploring the intricacies of this very specific time in everyone's lives. When they aren't done well, they can be trite and irritating, but when a filmmaker really digs deep into the pathos of the moment, it can be magic.

Yes, God, Yes is an indie comedy that was added to Netflix in October and has already captured the attention of subscribers. At the time of writing, the movie was second on Netflix's list of the top 10 most viewed movies on their platform. Written and directed by Obvious Child co-writer Karen Maine, Yes, God, Yes follows Alice (Natalia Dyer, aka Nancy from Stranger Things), a teenager in the early 2000s who is trying to square her burgeoning sexual desires with the culture of the repressive Catholic high school she attends. Things get even more complicated for Alice when a spiritual retreat starts to give her more questions than answers about what to do with her new feelings.

American Pie Presents: Girls' Rules this is not. Here's what you need to know about this indie teen dramedy that's currently killing it on Netflix.

The writer and director of Yes, God, Yes pulled from her own life to inspire the movie

Yes, God, Yes might feel eerily familiar to some viewers, and that's because Maine drew heavily from her own teenage experiences to thoughtfully and authentically craft the world of the film. During an interview with RogerEbert.com, Maine revealed, "It's such a weird part of my life. You know, Alice, the character, she goes through these experiences that I probably experienced 80% of what she does in the film like verbatim."

That doesn't mean, however, that Maine's protagonist is a stand-in for the writer-director. Maine clarified that she drew from her own childhood, "But I think the character of Alice is really her own person and is not a carbon copy of me."

Yes, God, Yes got its start as a short film, and Maine credits working with Dyer on that earlier version with helping to develop the protagonist of the film. Maine said of the work she did to turn her short into a feature, "[H]aving worked with Natalia on the short and being able to see what she brings to the character and her sensibilities, I was able to sort of write a little bit more towards her for the future."

Dyer's imprint on the film wasn't lost on reviewers, who gave the actress glowing reviews for her performance.

Critics were impressed with Natalia Dyer's performance in Yes, God, Yes

If you're wondering how a small indie film is blowing up the Netflix charts, the rave reviews Yes, God, Yes received may be part of the answer. The movie has an impressive 94% on Rotten Tomatoes with over 100 reviews taken into account. Maine's tight script and empathetic directorial choices were praised heavily, as was the performance of the film's star.

Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Strauss said of Dyer's acting, "Dyer's an expressive marvel as Alice navigates fear, curiosity, confusion and disgust through a labyrinth of lies."

Joe Leydon of Variety also took time out of his review to draw attention to Dyer's skilled juggling act of a performance. He wrote, "Dyer ... is exceptionally adept at persuasively portraying Alice as simultaneously ingenuous and inquisitive, easily embarrassed but obviously intelligent."

Dyer's skills at emoting are only part of what makes the performance work, according to Richard Brody of The New Yorker. He also praised her physicality and speech, saying, "Dyer's mercurially nuanced yet unforced performance conveys Alice's deep-rooted character as well as her practical struggles. Dyer's Alice gets through life with a natural briskness and an angular precision that's matched by a sharply etched diction, with its eloquent pauses and sardonic silences — and by furtive glances and distant gazes that evoke yearnings both carnal and intellectual."

Yes, God, Yes is a love letter to the early 2000s

In addition to deep-diving into the complicated feelings that emerge while attending Catholic high school, Yes, God, Yes is also a love letter to the early 2000s. Similar to Hulu's uncanny comedy PEN15, Maine's film smartly mines the beginning of the new millennium for painfully accurate references with which to build the world of the film. Anybody who has memories of the time will no doubt be wowed at the movie's often eerie attention to period detail.

The soundtrack to the film is filled with lots of perfectly evocative music from the era, notably Mandy Moore's "Candy" and a cover of Christina Aguilera's "Genie In a Bottle." There's also an ode to a scene in Titanic involving a steamy car window that anybody over the age of 30 likely whispered about with their friends for months after the movie was released. And perhaps most evocative of the era, an important narrative moment in the film hinges on the use of AOL Instant Messenger.

Whether your interest is piqued by Yes, God, Yes' ruminations on coming of age in a religious setting or the nostalgia of it all, you can stream the movie now on Neflix.

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