Marino Pacileo is in his fifties. Hunched over, with a gaze that gives away nothing, he almost never talks, communicating primarily with brief, inexpressive gestures. Thanks to a red birthmark on his forehead, he is nicknamed Gorbachev.
He works in the petty-cash department of the Poggioreale prison and he lives a sad and lonely life, all by himself in a small apartment, without friends. Were it not for the stranglehold of his gambling habit, he would barely exist.
Every day, after finishing his shift in a tiny office of the Neapolitan prison, Pacileo goes to the seamy, cramped backroom of a Chinese fried food shop, where he gambles with Sorrentino, a small-time local hood, the Chinese owner of the shop and the Attorney, a stout, vulgar man to whom the other three all owe major gambling debts.
Lily, the young daughter of the Chinese owner, works in the fried-food shop. She speaks no Italian whatsoever, and her job is simply to keep the players supplied with beer ad coffee. The young lady is the victim of the rude, abusive attention of the Attorney, who, having left the Chinese owner without a dime, also plans to buy the man’s daughter… Pacileo, who respects the girl and is disgusted by a father who would sell his own daughter, decides to help her. He wants to save Lily from that demeaning situation. At the same time, Lily gives an excuse to turn his own meaningless life around…