In 1925, Nacib (Marcello Mastroianni) is the owner of bar in a small Brazilian coastal town runs by the local colonels. He meets Gabriela (Sonia Braga) and hires her on as a cook. They soon enter a passionate relationship, fueled by his strong attraction to her sensual nature. However, he soon grows annoyed by the attention she receives. Under advisement of his best friend, Tonico (Cantafora), he proposes to her, partly in the hopes that the attention quells. After their marriage, he insists that she dress and behave more modestly so they can be seen as more respectable. Unfortunately, she cannot help but stray and he is forced to annul the marriage when he finds her in bed with Tonico. Later, as both Nacib and the town begin to undergo a transformation, Nacib and Gabriela resume their relationship. The political ways of the town modernize slightly and Gabriela returns as Nacib's mistress.
Jorge Amado (novel), Bruno Barreto, Leopoldo Serran, Flávio Ramos Tambellini