Wilfred Lucas’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wars can be quite the spectacle in the eyes of some children, as many films have depicted. It can be a momentous event of national heroism or it can create some kind of fascination with foreign culture, particularly American culture. Most Iraq War films from American filmmakers portray the United States as the protagonist of the conflict, and this idea gets perpetuated by other forms of mainstream media. In the phenomenal, poetic, and endlessly insightful "Turtles Can Fly," a boy nicknamed Satellite speaks English occasionally even though he barely understands the English language in television. He also recognizes some American actors and brands.
Satellite leads young boys in the refugee camp in collecting shells and mines. Many boys have lost their limbs but they still seem unfazed by the danger. Some moments that capture the naivety and inexperience of the boys are actually light-hearted and amusing. But through the course of the film, Satellite experiences an unfortunate awakening as he encounters the terror firsthand. The astounding ending offers a searing critique of what the ludicrous involvement of the American military meant for the civilians of Iraq.
"Turtles Can Fly" also tells the heart-rending story of a girl, her disabled brother who has prophetic visions, and an infant. The three arrived at the refugee camp after an attack in their homes and they do not really connect with the other kids. Agrin, the girl, struggles with her trauma and makes significant decisions that reveal the disheartening impact of war among young girls. She is unbothered by the advances of Satellite and longs for a life somewhere else. But as the horrors of the tragedy of her past continued to torment her, she makes difficult choices that are understandable but ultimately harrowing.