In Colombia just after the Great War, an old man falls from a ladder; dying, he professes great love for his wife, Fermina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno).
Fifty years previously Florentino Ariza, then a telegraph boy, fell in love with Fermina Daza. Her father, a mule trader, objected violently to his approach, and eventually Fermina married Juvenal Urbino, a cultured physician; although they come to love each other he is unfaithful to her.
Meanwhile Florentino finds solace in the arms of a series of women without marrying any of them.
After Urbino’s funeral Florentino Ariza calls on the widowed Fermina only for her to dismiss him angrily. But Florentino perseveres in his pursuit of the only woman he has ever loved.
Matthew Mungle was responsible for the prosthetic makeup design; John E Jackson was the makeup department head and credited for prosthetic makeup application; Chris Burgoyne & Carlos Sánchez were the co-assistant makeup department heads; Henry Vargas Romero was the makeup artist.
The scene where Fermina undresses for Florentino was achieved using a body-double and CGI as well as prosthetic makeup on Giovanna Mezzogiorno.