Turtle Hill, Brooklyn: Film Review
A gay couple's party is interrupted by surprise revelations in Ryan Gielen's micro-budgeted indie.
You know a movie’s in trouble when it’s most dramatic element is the breaking of a piñata. Such is the case with Turtle Hill, Brooklyn, Ryan Gielen’s micro-budgeted indie dramedy about a 30th birthday party held by a gay couple at their garden apartment home in the titular outer-borough neighborhood.
The presence of the piñata is explained by the fact that one of the couple, Mateo (Ricardo Valdez), is a Latino. As we learn in the opening scene, his live-in boyfriend, Will (Brian W. Seibert), has not yet come out to his family despite his assurances to his lover that he’s already done so. That information rudely comes to light with the unexpected arrival of Will’s sister Molly (Jeanne Slater), whose horrified reaction upon finding both men in a state of undress signals the reason for his subterfuge.
It isn’t long after that unfortunate incident that a large group of the couple’s friends arrives to celebrate Will’s birthday. And that’s pretty much it in terms of plot, with the mundane goings-on occasionally punctuated by such dramatic revelations as Mateo’s confession that he’s slept with one of the party guests, a hunky trainer at Will’s gym. His sheepish explanation is that he read in the New York Times that 50 percent of gay men have open relationships.
Director Gielen, working from a script by his two lead actors, keeps the camera flowing smoothly throughout the proceedings, capturing the action in an admirably naturalistic, fly-on-the-wall fashion. But as with many parties that go on for long and where you don’t know many people, there’s simply not much of interest going on. Such mildly resonant episodes as Mateo’s Mexican friend announcing that he’s tired of his menial existence in New York or the surprise revelation by one of the guests that he’s a Log Cabin Republican are offset by endless scenes of people nattering on mundanely. By the time the film reaches its emotionally forced conclusion -- yes, that intolerant sister reappears, followed by an inevitable group hug -- you’ll find yourself eagerly hoping for the party to end early.
Production: Will Pork Productions/Believe, Ltd.
Cast: Brian W. Seibert, Ricardo Valdez, Deirdre MacNamara, Ariel Bonilla, Rachel Valdati, Michael Edmund, Maryll Botula, Jeanne Slater
Director: Ryan Gielen
Screenwriters: Brian W. Seibert, Ricardo Valez
Producers: Brian W. Seibert, Ricardo Valdez, Holly Lynn Ellis, Ryan Gielen
Executive producers: Brian W. Seibert, Ricardo Valdez, Ryan Gielen
Director of photography: Andrew Rivara
Editor: Morgan Neville
Not rated, 85 min.