Araby starts with the young Andre, growing up close to an aluminum factory in the industrial town of Ouro Preto. Following a fatal accident in the factory, he is sent to the house of the dead factory worker, Cristiano. There, he finds a diary describing the last twenty years in the life of this hard-working man. This forms the story of Araby: Cristiano’s wanderings, adventures, love, and desperation.
Told almost entirely in voice-over, the film pulls us into the stories of Cristiano and the loners and fortune-seekers who cross his path. Life throws them few opportunities, but you can always start again somewhere new and choose whether to raise your voice or remain silent. The lives of the poverty-stricken, oppressed, hard-working people who have contributed so much to Brazil’s now-booming economy have seldom been portrayed with the freshness, inventiveness, and respect shown here.
Co-directors Uchoa and Dumans have succeeded exceptionally well in combining an epic, neo-realist biographical style with crystal-clear formalism. In their hands, the expansive hinterland of the state of Minas Gerais is brought to life like a red-and-green version of the American West (with an industrial complex here and there), appropriately supported by a country-folk soundtrack.