Luis Mariano García’s Mayfly is utterly endearing. A coming-of-age story, sprinkled with magic realism that steps over many of the clichés to deliver a charming take on a well-worn genre.
Emillia (Danae Reynaud) is a serious, studious high-schooler with her eyes on the prize of a place at a prestigious architecture school. In the library one day, she sees a school mate literally glowing as he starts to cough. When the boy passes away she is frightened at the funeral as she sees more and more people glow. When a girl at the funeral, Renata (Carla Adell) comes to her aid, Emilia is drawn to her spontaneous ways. But Emilia is torn between her plans, and her relationship with a girl who refuses to look too far into the future.
There is so much to love in Mayfly. The two leads are convincing as teenagers in the first bloom of a new relationship, while Emilia’s awkwardness combines with Renata’s calm, making for an instantly adorable duo. As their relationship deepens, and Emilia begins to sees an increasing number of people with the tragic glow, she is forced to start dealing with adult problems. At no time does homophobia rear its ugly head; the issues Emilia has to face are at once unique, due to her ability to foresee death, and universal. Can a girl who spent her whole life living in the future, bring herself to live in the moment?
It’s a wonderfully fresh take on a teenager learning to look at their world through fresh, more mature eyes. Emilia re-examines her past with a new understanding and sees her world expanded by the experiences of Renata, all with the help of her supportive father. Maybe becoming an adult includes learning to hold onto our childhood?
There are one or two narrative stumbles—potentially budget related—near the film’s ending, but by that point Mayfly had earned so much goodwill from me that I was quick to move past them.
A charming, warm hug of a movie, Mayfly is full of love and angst, but the angst isn’t grounded in sexuality. It’s part of a new wave of queer teen stories that move beyond coming out struggles to tell broader, richer LGBTQIA+ narratives.
By Chad Armstrong
Mayfly gets its Australian premiere at the Mardi Gras Film Festival on Saturday, February 26th. The MGFF runs until March 3rd 2022. Click here for session times and tickets.