Tag Archives: Natalia Dyer

Kisses Are Hers and Hers and His


by Rachel Willis

Writer/director Jac Cron offers a slice-of-summer in a young woman’s life in the skillfully written film, Chestnut.

Annie (Natalia Dyer) is on the verge of moving across the country when she meets Tyler (Rachel Keller) and Danny (Danny Ramirez) at a bar. Tyler is the first to approach, and what begins as a shared drink becomes a budding romance.

Cron’s script is a subtle take on young men and women stumbling toward their futures, one uncertain foot at a time. Danny and Tyler work shifts at a high-end restaurant, spending their nights drinking at bars or dancing in clubs. Annie is easily caught up in this world, as she struggles with her fear of the future.

Though Dyer is the core of the film, it’s the scene stealing Keller is who draws most of our focus. Tyler’s dynamic presence is tinged with the unexpected. She keeps Annie off-balance, stringing her along in a way that may feel familiar to anyone who’s faltered in a new relationship. Annie’s joy and confusion is understandable. Tyler is often unknowable.

While Keller draws us in, Dyer often leaves us floundering. Her acting veers too often toward melodrama, which doesn’t fit the tone of the film. The awkward flirtation is awkward for the wrong reasons. Instead of coming across as realistic, it feels unnatural. It’s unfortunate the camera work seems to mirror Dyer’s acting, as neither are particularly interesting.

As Danny, Ramirez is left with less to do than either Keller or Dyer. However, he imbues the character with a certain unease that suggests there is more to Tyler than Annie realizes. His own relationship with Annie comes across more naturally, more honest, helping the audience understand what draws Annie into their lives.

Additional characters pass in and out of the film, each offering more to the picture of who Annie is. There are no overt realizations or narrative moments of clarity. Something much simpler and more interesting happens as Annie’s summer comes to a close.

As a whole, the movie has some hard-to-overlook faults, but the writing is good enough that it doesn’t really matter.

Suddenly Salad

Yes, God, Yes

by Hope Madden

A few years back, Gillian Robespierre and Karen Maine co-wrote Obvious Child, a whip-smart subversion of rom-com tropes that went on to be our nation’s first and still best mainstream abortion comedy.

How did it succeed? It lived in a low key, non-sentimental world and gifted a remarkable comedic talent (Jenny Slate) with an outstanding character.

Fast forward half a dozen years and Maine has moved on to directing the solo writing effort Yes, God, Yes. But she’s clearly learned from the previous experience, crafting an unsentimental but tender coming-of-age film—a teen sex comedy, if you will—from the female perspective.

And again, she relies on a genuine talent to deliver the goods.

Natalia Dyer (Stranger Things) is Alice, a Catholic high school junior who has done absolutely nothing (regardless of one persistent rumor), but still thinks she may be a budding pervert hurtling toward eternal damnation.

It seems a lot of people may harbor that same suspicion of Alice.

Alice, like basically everyone in high school, is in for some awkward times. Dyer is wonderfully expressive, especially in her most quiet moments. Her understated comedic energy belies a gawky sweetness that makes Alice easy to root for.

Maine’s script is equally insightful, funny and tender. The humor rarely gets too crude, although there’s no question of the film’s R rating. Still, the film never loses its relatively innocent sensibility.

Yes, God, Yes is occasionally hampered by broad stroke depictions and the story ends up feeling fairly slight.

What Maine principally points out, though, is not the insidious problem of sexual repression festering inside Catholic education (because that too easy a target). Rather, the filmmaker offers a clear eyed if forgiving picture of human beings, each one struggling to “figure out their own shit.”

Honestly, I can think of no lesson more important for a teen to learn (although that bit of advice about protecting your online passwords is solid, too).

Yes, God, Yes will be available on UK Digital Download from 17th August and can be pre-ordered here