Mayflies is both warm and brutal

SBS, Wednesday, March 15, 9:30 p.m. and SBS on Demand

Adapted – very quickly – from Scottish author Andrew O’Hagan’s 2020 novel of the same name, this two-part series is a celebration of the lifelong friendship between two fortysomethings – bite-sized, rebellious Tully (Tony Curran) and thoughtful, quietly spoken Jimmy, affectionately known as Noodles (Martin Compston, sounds more Scottish than usual) – and a meditation on death and dying.

O’Hagan’s largely autobiographical book is divided into two halves: the first follows Tully and Jimmy through their dizzying teenage years in Thatcher-era Scotland as they navigate small-town life and their love of music (the soundtrack will delight autumn lovers and their kind ) and escape dreams; and today when Jimmy, now a successful author, receives an urgent call from schoolteacher Tully asking him to come home to Ayrshire.

Tony Curran als Tully und Martin Compston als Jimmy in <i>mayflies</i>.” src=”$zoom_0.177%2C$multiply_0.7725%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86% 2Cf_auto/c9682337c20137840e57430d85940fa1cbc8051a” height=”390″ width=”584″ srcset=”$zoom_0.177%2C$multiply_0.7725%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756% 2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/c9682337c20137840e57430d85940fa1cbc8051a,$zoom_0.177%2C$multiply_1.545%2C$ratio_1.5%2C.756%2C$width_756% $x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/c9682337c20137840e57430d85940fa1cbc8051a 2x”/></picture></div><figcaption class=

Tony Curran as Tully and Martin Compston as Jimmy in mayflies.Credit:Synchronicity Movie / Jamie Simpson

In this series, however, the couple’s teenage years have been incorporated into the narrative as flashbacks – teenage Tully is played by Tom Glynn-Carney and Rian Gordon is uncanny as young Jimmy – which gives us just enough understanding of the depth of their friendship and shared history .

Little time is wasted. When Jimmy returns home, Tully reveals that he has terminal cancer and only has a few months to live. The chemotherapy could buy him a few extra months but he wants to go out on his own terms. “Don’t let me die like an idiot,” he tells Jimmy before asking him to travel with him to Switzerland to end his life before he’s no longer himself. He wants Jimmy to be his “campaign manager” for his death, and fears “a rush of emotion” more than death itself.

Tully (Tony Curran) und Anna (Ashley Jensen) in <i>mayflies</i>.” loading=”lazy” src=”$zoom_0.177%2C$multiply_0.7725%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0 /t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/6f904e0e3e3cbde2d8ab59e04219d1ad3ebd0132″ height=”390″ width=”584″ srcset=”$zoom_0.177%2C$multiply_0.7725%2C$ratio_1.5 %2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/6f904e0e3e3cbde2d8ab59e04219d1ad3ebd0132,$zoom_0.177%2C$multiply_1.545%2C$ratio_1.5% 2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/6f904e0e3e3cbde2d8ab59e04219d1ad3ebd0132 2x”/></picture></div><figcaption class=

Tully (Tony Curran) and Anna (Ashley Jensen) in mayflies.Credit:Synchronicity Movies / Jamie Simpson

He charts an itinerary for his remaining months, including one last gig with his band at the local pub and marrying his partner Anna (Ashley Jensen).

Jimmy is immediately torn between loyalty to his best mate and reluctance to help him leave. And when Tully reveals he didn’t discuss his exit strategy with Anna, who asked him for chemotherapy, things get even more complicated. “I love you,” says Jimmy, “but you can’t ask that of me.” Of course he will, despite his wife Iona (Tracy Ifeachor) telling him it’s crazy.

Tully’s health deteriorates, he and Jimmy reflect on their lives, and we see key moments from their teenage years: the way Tully’s family became de facto family to Jimmy, who effectively “divorced” his own parents when he was 16 let jokes with her group of buddies; Growing ups and downs. mayflies is both brutal and warm-hearted, particularly in its depiction of male friendship portrayed as something as significant as romantic love. Mayflies is both warm and brutal

Jaclyn Diaz

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