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The concurrent sexual lives of best friends Jonathan and Sandy are presented, those lives which are affected by the sexual mores of the time and their own temperament, especially in relation to the respective women who end up in their lives. Their story begins in the late 1940s when they are roommates attending Amherst College together. Both virgins, they discuss the type of woman they would each like to end up with. Sandy, the more sensitive of the two, meets Susan at a mixer, she who he believes is going to be the one to who he will lose his virginity. Sandy goes through the process methodically, taking into account what he thinks Susan wants, but without much true passion or romance. Jonathan, the more sexually aggressive of the two, ends up losing his virginity first to "Myrtle", who ends up being a steady but hidden girlfriend. Based on what each knows of the other's relationship, both Jonathan and Sandy strive for a little more of what the other has. These relationships also set... Written by
Ellen Burstyn auditioned for the role of Bobbi. After seeing the finished film, however, Burstyn admitted she could not have played the role as well as Ann-Margret did. See more »
If you had a choice...
Would you rather love a girl, or have her love you?
I want it mutual.
I mean if you couldn't have it mutual.
You mean would I rather be the one who loves, or is loved?
It's not that easy a question. But, I think I'd rather be in love.
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Just like Nichols' later masterpiece Closer, Carnal Knowledge expertly deals with romances falling apart, coming back together and the study of lust and it's many complications. And just like Closer the dialogue and relationships in the film feel more authentic than virtually anything else I've ever seen. All of the arguments and especially the conversations between Jonathan and Sandy felt so natural, humorous and somewhat depressing. It evoked all of the emotions that lust in life does and perfectly demonstrates how rare true love and happiness is. The performances were all incredible and Ann-Margret more than deserved her nomination (the win in my opinion) but Jack Nicholson really shines above the rest of the cast. His realism, intensity and humor was top-notch to say the least. He also displays this internal pain that I can't even describe, but stunned me to my core. I felt like I could really relate to the character and that made his actions even more devastating to me.
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