In Doron Eran’s Melting Away, Anna, a transgender woman, comes back to care for her ailing father, Shlomo Shapira, as he slowly dies from cancer. To care for her estranged father, Anna must lie to her family and tell them she is a private nurse, instead of the son they kicked out years prior, after discovering women’s clothes and accessories in his room.
In a heart-wrenching scene at the beginning of the movie, Assaf (who will soon become Anna, though the details of this transformation are never discussed) runs angrily out of his bedroom after arguing with his father. After Assaf leaves, his father discovers a bra and other women’s clothes in his son’s room. Realizing these are his son’s clothes, Shlomo has the locks changed on the gate. When Assaf returns and tries, to no avail, to unlock the gate, it begins to storm. Upon realizing he has been discarded by his parents, he begins to cry and looks into the security camera that monitors the door. The scene cuts to his mother, Galia, who sits silently watching as her teenage son struggles with a door that is no longer his, and a situation he cannot change. Not knowing what to do, Galia does nothing and lets her son run away, until four years later when she hires a private investigator to find him, hoping to mend the ruptured relationship.
Regardless of how you feel about people who are gay, transgender, transsexual, bisexual or anything in between, watching the struggles of a youth coming to terms with her identity is a very real experience. Although many details of the movie are left to the viewer’s imagination (Where did Anna go when she was kicked out as a teen? Did Anna have surgery to become a woman?), Eran does a decent job of portraying the complexities of the situation. It should be said, though, that while Anna is fortunate enough to have a job and an apartment (when we find her years later, after her father has been diagnosed), in reality, many transgender and transsexual youth and teenagers who are kicked out of their homes aren’t so lucky.
Anna, on the other hand, is an example of a transgender woman who, despite being icked out of her home, is able to make a life for herself. She is still living in Tel Aviv when her mother hires a private investigator to find her so she can see her father before he dies. Knowing that she couldn’t possibly show up to her father’s hospital room as a woman, Anna courageously introduces herself as her father’s private nurse, all the while avoiding contact with her mother, who is usually not present on the days Anna is watching her father. Despite the distance stemming from the years of separation and the false identity of being a nurse, Anna and her father reconnect. As Shlomo’s health deteriorates, Anna gets to know him in a way she was never previously able to. Anna, in her present form, is better able to connect with her father as a fake nurse than as Assaf, the son she was born as. Soon, as Anna’s visits become more regular, it becomes too hard for her to keep her secret. Without revealing too much, a reunion of sorts takes place and each character sees the other in a new light.
Although oversimplified at points, this story is about the complexities of relationships and how, in the end, no matter how cliché, love conquers all. Despite Anna and Shlomo’s estrangement, a bridge is created between them, and despite the awful circumstances, Anna finds love in her heart for the same parents who cast her out. Without excusing them, Anna realizes that her parents had no idea at the time how to deal with the fact that their son was a woman. The melting here is two-fold: between two parents who accept their child for who she is and for Anna, who is able to forgive her parents. Melting Away not just a story on a screen, but something that viewers can take to heart. Each of the actors delivers a top-notch performance that is realistic in both the humanity of the characters and the relationships among them. As a cast, they work in tandem to deliver a very genuine message of love and forgiveness, which, in the end, brings warmth to all audiences. (Rachel Rothstein, Davidsvoice,org)