In 1925, Gabriela, a poor, uneducated, yet charming woman becomes cook, mistress, and then wife of Nacib, a bar owner in Ilhéus, a small Brazilian coastal town runs by the local colonels.
In 1925, Nacib (Marcello Mastroianni) is the owner of a bar in a small Brazilian coastal town run by the local colonels. He meets Gabriela (Sonia Braga) and hires her 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. On the advice of his best friend, Tonico (Cantafora), he proposes to her, partly in the hopes that the attention will quell. 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.
1:13:28 Nacib finds his wife Gabriela and his best friend Tonico in bed.