Turtle Hill, Brooklyn
What a sweet, genuine movie! The writers of "Turtle Hill, Brooklyn" bring to this film everything you want when you pop a DVD into the slot: Humor, well drawn characters, sympathy, suspense, surprise. They also bring themselves, starring as the two main characters and drawing on the chemistry of own real-life status as a committed couple.
Will (Brian W. Seibert, "Deleted Scenes") and Mateo (Ricardo Valdez) have been getting serious about one another for some time, but Will is still not out to his family. When Will’s sister drops in on the couple to offer a surprise greeting for Will’s birthday, we can see why: Her first response (and her second, as well) is to get shrill and hysterically, with her religiously-driven anti-gay sentiments boiling up. ("It’s not normal! You need help!")
Will’s lie to Mateo about having finally come out isn’t the only deception the couple grapple with over the course of the day. There’s also the matter of a handsome, kind of slutty trainer from their gym...
"Turtle Hill, Brooklyn" is content to shroud the melodrama in comic trappings and swaddle it in highly stylized touches that nonetheless come across as having a naturalistic energy. There are video clips of the guests individually wishing Will a happy birthday; there’s a running gag in which the characters keep experiencing and divulging major revelations while in (or waiting for) the bathroom.
What makes it all gel is the film’s generous emotional core, which builds heat slowly but then warms the viewer with both complexity and kindness. It only helps that Seibert and Valdez avoid the vanity project vibe and bring on somebody else to direct (Ryan Gielen, who worked with Seibert previously on Gielen’s 2009 film "The Graduates"), freeing them up to inhabit their characters. (Gielen also acts as a producer for this film.)
"Turtle Hill, Brooklyn"