Director: Doron Eran
Cast: Hen Yanni, Yonatan Barak, Limor Goldstein and Shay Kadimi.
Running Time: 86 minutes
Plot: The moving story of a family driven into crisis when parents discover their son, Assaf, is cross-dressing. Locked out of the family home, Assaf runs away, and years later his mother hires a private detective in a desperate attempt to track him down. Instead of their ‘son’, the detective finds a glamorous woman who earns her money dancing in cabarets.
The Jewish Film Festival has been taking place across the UK in November and MELTING AWAY made its UK debut.
Not only does this film showcase the absolute best of the Israeli film industry has to offer, but it is also a great LGBT film. The transgendered community have often been stereotyped in film, often their portrayals in film being rather comedic and over the top, but MELTING AWAY shows a genuine, heartfelt story about a family who are struggling to accept that their son wants to be a woman.
The subplots are also endearing. Anna’s friend Shimi, who is in the closet himself, finally comes out to his mother and she replies “At least you have my taste in men”. However, this is also a frustrating part because when he leaves to go out with Anna and his boyfriend, we cut back to his mother in distress but that story is never touched upon again. I’d say this is a reoccurring theme throughout, as some stories that did not need much time had too much, and the stories that should have been touched upon were not investigated further.
The main focus of MELTING AWAY is the transformation of Assaf into Anna, and Hen Yanni’s performance as Anna is absolutely breathtaking. Whilst we only see a quick glimpse of Yanni as Assaf, we do see Anna coming out of her shell as a glamorous and talented singer in a gay club, blossoming into a person that she identifies with.
Visually this film is also stunning, the hospital being dreary and grey, Anna’s house being small and cosy, it captures Tel Aviv in a way that has not been seen before. The scenes where Anna is on stage singing ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Melting Away’ also capture the contrasts of the glamorous Anna and an underground gay club.
While it would have been nice to see Anna’s transformation more physically on-screen (it was quite clear from the start that it was a female playing the character) and although the story itself isn’t groundbreaking or excessively hard-hitting, it doesn’t take the heart out of this story. While many LGBT films try and look at the nitty gritty, MELTING AWAY shows that sometimes life works out okay, and in a day and age where teenagers are getting bullied for their sexuality, this film’s message needs to be out there.