An appealingly off-the-cuff chamber piece, Turtle Hill, Brooklyn unfolds throughout the course of a day in the outer-borough home of Will (Brian W. Seibert) and Mateo (Ricardo Valdez) as guests arrive to celebrate Will’s 30th birthday. Over a long afternoon that stretches into evening, the group of friends joke around, discuss issues like the immigrant experience and marriage equality, and engage in joyous set-pieces such as a piñata-whacking. A spirit of free play defines the proceedings, as the script, penned by the two leads, allows characters to reveal themselves through believably precise bits of booze- and weed-fueled conversation. But tensions simmer, materializing in the form of Will’s homophobic sister, a Republican who gets “accidentally” punched in the face and, most significantly, the past infidelity that lingers over the central couple’s relationship. Nothing is forced in Ryan Gielen’s deceptively simple story, with the pressures bubbling forth as naturally as the good cheer that defines so much of the film. In the end, issues are confronted head-on, but true to the film’s conception of life in flux, a definitive resolution is smartly rejected.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 2, 2013