Before its official theatrical release in New York on May 3rd, I had an
opportunity to chat with the men responsible for the new movie Turtle Hill, Brooklyn.
I spoke with writers and actors Brian Seibert and Ricardo Valdez on a
nice, spring Saturday, as they relaxed in their home garden, which is
the movie's setting. 24 hours later, I called director, Ryan Gielen, as
he was spending the week in Los Angeles.
Turtle Hill, Brooklyn is about a gay couple, Will and Mateo, played and written respectively by Seibert and Valdez. Will and Mateo are celebrating Will's 30th birthday. A group of their friends come over. They drink. They talk. They laugh. They swing at a piñata and hang out in a kiddie pool. A couple of people shake things up but it all takes place in one day, starting with Will waking up in the morning and ending with him falling asleep at night.
Both Seibert and Gielen referenced Rachel Getting Married (2008) as an inspiration and touchstone for their movie, even though Turtle Hill, Brooklyn has nothing to do with a wedding. Valdez said when he and Seibert were writing, they took moments from their lives that they thought were funny and laid them down. Seibert affirmed that initially and perhaps still the screenplay was a series of sketches loosely linked together, the undercurrent being the state of Will and Mateo's relationship and if it will in fact survive by the end of the night.
If you haven't seen Turtle Hill, Brooklyn, I'm about to spoil a plot point. One of the two, Will or Mateo, has an affair, and since the two actors are so intimately involved in this movie's inception as well as its execution, I debated asking Seibert and Valdez who are a couple in real life if an affair actually happened to them in their relationship. I didn't ask. When I tried to get Seibert to answer a rather personal question about his past relations and experiences, he politely passed, so I decided not to continue down that path with either him or Valdez.
I of course don't want to speculate, but there is a lot of truth and honesty in this movie. I could be grasping at straws. Both Seibert and Valdez are more than likely the most monogamous of monogamists, and Seibert did say Woody Allen was a favorite filmmaker of his and Deconstructing Harry (1997) a favorite film. Allen, in Deconstructing Harry and practically all of his movies, famously deals with men who have affairs and cheat on spouses or significant others. Maybe it's not out of personal experience that Seibert has made this movie about infidelity. Maybe, it's just in homage to Woody Allen.
Regardless, Gielen said that essentially he recognized some kind of authenticity when he read their script. Gielen did admit that he has been on both sides of cheating himself, and he said, "The script cut through the bull$#%t." What I believe he meant was that the screenplay gets at some fundamentals about why or what leads to cheating, not that it excuses infidelity.
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