He is a man with no certain future and she is a woman trying to break free of the past. They meet in the street and later continue their encounter in his luxury apartment high above the city of Rio de Janeiro. Paulo's bra factory has gone out of business, and his voluptuous girlfriend has deserted him. Maria, a former airline stewardess, is still upset about the end of a lengthy affair with a married pilot. Now they try to escape time by abandoning themselves to a wild spree of sexuality.

Brazilian filmmaker Arnaldo Jabor has stated that I Love You "embraces all the ups and downs and ins and outs of love, as well as its fears and acts of bravery." Sonia Braga as Maria puts in a volatile and versatile performance; her exotic beauty enchants and mesmerizes. Paulo Cesar Pereio's Paulo desperately tries to make poetry out of his sexual appetites; his intensity is alternately appealing and frightening.

The film begins as a soap opera about two crestfallen losers in love. They use each other, amuse each other, and then leave each other. But the afterglow of their red-hot physical relationship draws them together again to explore new levels of intimacy and combat. In the finale, director Jabor sends them out into the streets for a happy ending song-and-dance routine.

I Love You charts the complexity and mystery of sex as has no other movie since In the Realm of the Senses, a Japanese work which was seized by the authorities after one showing to critics in the 1976 New York Film Festival. Jabor's film is an erotic and totally compelling profile of human sexuality — its ingredients of play, its elements of fantasy, its yin and yang of dominance and submission, its contrasts of self-doubt and self-inflation, its knotted humor, its mythos of transcendence over death, its ties to familial and societal warps, and its residual ambiguity.

The movie could be seen as an earthly meditation upon this thought by Iaac Bashevis Singer: "The best contact with humanity is through love and sex. Here really you learn all about love, because in sex and in love character is revealed more than anywhere else."