The pulse of the night finds a new beat in writer/director Ary Zara’s beautiful short An Avocado Pit (Um Caroço de Abacate). Larissa (Gaye Medeiros), a trans woman, is gliding home at night on her bicycle through Lisbon. After freshening up at the place she shares with other trans women, she takes a bus to the street where trans women hire themselves out for sex work. While handing out condoms to the other sex workers, she notices a man sitting in his car, staring at everyone but not approaching.
As he finishes talking to his wife, Larissa jumps in the car with the man. He demands her to get out, but she talks him into giving her a ride down the street. He lets her know he doesn’t identify as gay but is fascinated by trans women. He tells her his name is Carlos (Ivo Canelas), and they strike up a conversation that becomes more and more interesting for them both as the night stretches on.
“While handing out condoms to the other sex workers, she notices a man sitting in his car…”
First, there were vampires, and then werewolves. Now, we can apparently add trans women to the list of creatures that will turn you into them if you are bitten on the neck. No, An Avocado Pit (Um Caroço de Abacate) isn’t a horror film. The transformation through biting is just a single thread of the elaborate fabric of the conversation that Zara writes into the screenplay. It comes off as very natural but also manages to explore some complex concepts.
Canelas is perfect as, forgive the term, the straight man, with pinpoint reactions that ring true but don’t deride his character. Medeiros is a wonder as she makes the arrow fly right off the fabulous meter. She holds viewers’ attention and carries the picture like the moon carries the evening sky. Zara’s direction of the performers brings out the best results imaginable.
It takes some special shooting to catch that silky electric feel of the night, and cinematographer Leandro Ferrao is one such shooter. The hot spots sparkle along a nightscape that sizzles throughout the running time. The ending seems ambiguous until you realize it is not. An Avocado Pit (Um Caroço de Abacate) shimmers with that raw magic of a spontaneous night with a lot of reflection afterward.
"…makes the arrow fly right off the fabulous meter."