Portugal 1938. Pereira is the editor of the culture section of the Lisboa, an unaffiliated evening paper. There is civil war in Spain and the fascists are in power in Portugal, but he concerns himself only with his work (writing biographies of famous writers and translating French novels) and ignores what is going on around him. He hires Monteiro Rossi, an idealistic young man in love with a beautiful communist, as an assistant. He reluctantly helps them when they begin to get into trouble due to subversive activities. Eventually events force him to take a stand.