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Carnal Knowledge (1971) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • 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 the tone for all the relationships they will have in the future. Through their lives, they always seem not totally satisfied with their relationship at the time, still pining for what the other has. This view may change as they and their friendship hits middle age, when Sandy is with a domineering woman named Cindy, while Jonathan is with model/actress Bobbie, whose life goes spiraling downward because of her relationship to Jonathan and despite her beauty which on the surface offered so much opportunity for her. Jonathan's sexual trajectory, directed through these experiences, ends up in a manner he probably did not foresee happening.

    - Written by Huggo
  • Jonathan and Sandy are roommates in the university. Each one of them has a different behavior and experience with women: Jonathan is cynical, malicious, and selfish. He does not respect anybody (even his best friend is not respected) and just want to have sex. Women are objects for him. Sandy is almost the opposite of Jonathan and has a different approach with women: he is shy, sensitive and respectful; he does not have much experience with women. Sandy dates Susan but Jonathan gives a pass on her in the beginning of a triangle of love. A few years later, Susan is married with Sandy, and Jonathan and Sandy are successful in their professions and boring with their mates. Now, Jonathan has a relationship with the sexy Bobbie. As years goes by, the two friends have affairs with different women but no steady relationship.

    - Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • The film traces the sexual and emotional confusion of two men from their Amherst College days in the fifties through the Kennedy sixties, up to the Vietnam era. Jonathan, a successful tax attorney and Sandy, a physician, personify two extremes of self-delusion and self-aggrandizement: Jonathan makes the mistake of thinking sex is love, and embarks on a lifetime of sexual conquest; Sandy dedicates himself to the pursuit of an idealized woman and the dreamy spiritual completeness to be found therein. In Bobbie Jonathan finds a partner whose masochism compliments his selfishness and emotional ambivalence. Jonathan does not want her to hold a job, but neither does he like the fact that she spends all day in bed sleeping, or watching TV. Sandy falls in love with his first college romance, Susan; they marry and have children. But Sandy is haunted by the fear that he was too hasty, even though he and Susan lead a happy domestic life and strive to reinvigorate their sex life by making love "in all seven rooms" of their apartment. With Jonathan's help, he enters into an affair with Cindy, a tough professional woman who turns Sandy off because she is too overbearing.

    - Written by alfiehitchie

Synopsis

At Amherst College in the late 1940s, freshmen roommates Jonathan Bates (Jack Nicholson) and Sanford 'Sandy' Cohn (Art Garfunkle) develop a friendly rivalry over their attempts at "scoring" on their dates with female students...

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