At 17, Noel Rosa is a funny guy with a twisted chin who likes improvising sarcastic poems for his friends. He studies medicine and plays in a local band with other boys from his neighborhood. A middle-class white guy, he prefers the friendship of black guys from the other side of the tracks, factory girls and hookers. Between declarations of love and samba duels, the irreverent Samba Philosopher sidesteps his professors, family and even the police to live an intense life buoyed along by monumental quantities of cigarettes and alcohol. Until that is, an illness that is too powerful for the medicines of the era complicates his life.