Synopsis by Mark Deming
Based on the novel by Luis Sepulveda, this drama stars Richard Dreyfuss as Antonio Bolivar, an elderly man who lives in a small village along the Amazon River. Many years ago, Bolivar and his young wife came to the village as part of an effort to colonize the area; the couple was welcomed by Nushino (Victor Bottenbley), leader of the native tribes, but after a fever took the life of his spouse and attacks by fortune seekers caused the natives to turn their backs on the white settlers, Bolivar has been virtually alone, with only one close friend in the village, an aging dentist named Rubicondo (Hugo Weaving). Bolivar passes his time by reading florid romance novels passed along to him by Josefina (Cathy Tyson), Rubicondo's mistress who works as an aide for the village's mayor, Luis Agalla (Timothy Spall). Agalla, not an especially scrupulous man, has been selling illegal hunting permits to visitors hunting big game, and one of his customers made the mistake of killing and skinning a pack of jaguar cubs; the mother of the cats found the hunter, and tore him to shreds. Now likely to attack any human she sees, the mother jaguar is roaming the jungle near the village and must be found before she can kill again, and Bolivar steps forward to help with the dangerous assignment of finding and capturing the vicious cat.