Portugal 1938. Pereira is the editor of the culture section of the "Lisboa," an unaffiliated evening paper. There is a 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.