Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (Portuguese: Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos) is a 1976 comedy film directed by Bruno Barreto. Based on the novel of the same name by Jorge Amado, it takes place in 1940s Bahia. It stars Sônia Braga, José Wilker and Mauro Mendonça in the leading roles. The screenplay was adapted by Barreto, Eduardo Coutinho and Leopoldo Serran.
When initially released, Dona Flor became the most successful film in Brazilian history. Its box office was only reached by a Brazilian production 35 years later by the 2010 blockbuster Elite Squad: The Enemy Within. Internationally, Dona Flor received nominations for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award.
In 1982, an American remake titled Kiss Me Goodbye, starring Sally Field, James Caan, and Jeff Bridges in the leading roles, was released.
Vadinho (José Wilker), Flor's irresponsible husband, drops dead while dancing in a street carnival party. Only Flor (Sônia Braga) expresses remorse after his death. Flor's friends and family see Vadinho's death as a chance for Flor to find happiness after the misery brought upon her by Vadinho's spendthrift ways and near-total lack of respectability.
Roughly the first half of Dona Flor recounts Flor's marriage with Vadinho in an extended flashback. What is made clear is that Vadinho was a great lover who admired his wife's respectability, but enjoyed protracted foreplay until she begged him to continue. Not only was he generally an inattentive husband who would rather go to the casinos and whore houses, but he beat Flor and stole the savings she made from her cooking school. Despite this, he changed a formerly inhibited girl into a wife who experienced carnal joy regularly.
The second half of Dona Flor involves Flor's meeting the respectable but extraordinarily dull pharmacist Teodoro (Mauro Mendonça), his courtship of her, and her marriage to him. Flor's friends consider Teodoro the exact opposite of Vadinho. Teodoro belongs in superior circles within Bahia's society, dresses elegantly, and treats Flor like a lady. What Flor's friends do not know is that Teodoro is also the opposite of Vadinho in one more respect: in bed, Teodoro is as lacking as Vadinho was accomplished. Flor finds herself unfulfilled, and wishes for her late husband to return.
On the anniversary of Vadinho's death, Vadinho reappears to Flor in the nude and explains that she called him to "share her bed" with him. Only Flor can see and hear the nude spirit of Vadinho, but he still manages to create chaos through his spiritual presence at casinos. She protests because she is now remarried and has pledged to be faithful to Teodoro, but after Vadinho laughs during Teodoro's pathetic attempts at love-making that night, Flor gives in and lives happily with both husbands. The last two shots depict Flor in her new marital bliss. A shot toward the end of the film shows Teodoro lying in bed next to Flor, who kisses him on the cheek. The camera then pans to the left to show Vadinho on Flor's other side and she kisses him on the cheek too. Then (presumably the next day) as a large crowd exits Sunday Mass, we see Flor linking arms with both Teodoro and Vadinho, the latter of who is completely in the nude without shame. Flor is seen to be very content.
BAFTA Film AwardsBest Leading Newcomer – Sônia Braga (nominated)
Golden Globe AwardsBest Foreign Language Film (nominated)
Gramado Film FestivalBest Film – Bruno Barreto (nominated)
Best Director – Bruno Barreto (won)
Best Film Music – Francis Hime (won)
Special Jury Award – Anisio Medeiros, production designer (won)