Directed by Billie August and the film stars Jeremy Irons as Raimund, the Swiss professor who stops a woman from jumping off a bridge. She walks away from him but drops her coat and a book drops out. Raimund reads the book and becomes fixated in locating the Portuguese author, Amadeu. In the book is a train ticket to Lisbon so he decides to go to Lisbon and locate the author's home address.
The professor finds Amadeu's address and goes to the house. The author's sister answers the door and is hostile to him but the maid explains Amadeu was a doctor but is now dead.
Leaving the house, the professor has an accident and breaks his glasses. While getting new glasses from the local optician he retells his story to her. She says she has an uncle who knew the author. The uncle explains he was in the Portuguese resistance with Amadeu and now the story is told in flashback about the life of Amadeu do Prado- his actions in the resistance and his love of a woman who also was loved by Amadeu's best friend.
Raimund pieces together the story of the life of Amadeu and realises his own life is nothing compared to Amadeu's life and does not return to his home town.