Movie Review: Introduction to Love in Architecture 101 (2012)

Argh, can’t we just skip past February? LOL. It’s that time of the year once again when we can’t help but feel sentimental about the what ifs in our lives specifically in the love department. Tell me, is it possible to forget that one person who gave us our very first heartbreak? Nah, especially if they left us with tons of questions: what if we acted a little braver back then and confessed our hearts, would they accept us? What if we didn’t jump into conclusions, would we end up with them? Then here comes curiosity. Where are they now? Are they married? Do they have kids already? Are they doing fine? And so on. For the love month, K-Movie Corner features the film Architecture 101, which is exactly about the beauty and pain of first love. I know you’re already excited about this so here we go!

We were all someone’s first love. Ahhh, I love this movie’s tagline!

The movie stars Uhm Tae-woong and Han Ga-in as the present-day hero and heroine, and Lee Je-hoon and Suzy as their younger versions, respectively. Released in 2012, it stayed in the No. 1 spot of the box-office for three weeks and was also one of the top 10 most-watched Korean films in the first quarter of that year. Nine weeks later, it set a new box-office record for melodramas by reaching 4.1 million theater admissions.

Seeing the movie myself, I understood why it became a huge hit among moviegoers. Its story, which is written by PD Lee Yong-ju who also directed the film, is very relatable and the laid back storytelling made it more appealing. Architect Lee Seung-min (Uhm Tae-woong) is living his life just fine when his first love from first year college named Yang Seo-yeon (Han Ga-in), who is now a divorcee, suddenly reappears to ask his help in building her dream house in her hometown of Jeju. The tension between the two is very obvious especially on the part of Seung-min, who is now engaged to be married. As they work together for months, they are able to find the missing puzzle pieces from the past that allowed them to let go and move on with their lives.

The extensive use of flashbacks is also one of the strengths of the movie as it gave the audience a deeper knowledge about the hero and heroine’s past. And that is Lee Je-hoon and Suzy’s territory. There we saw how Seung-min and Seo-yeon’s young love blossomed from just being classmates in an introductory architecture class in college to being close friends who eventually developed secret feelings for each other. We also witnessed how their promising romance abruptly ended because of a misunderstanding. Maybe I have a thing for throwbacks because I really enjoyed the flashback scenes especially the ones with Jo Jung-suk in it who provided the comic relief.

Fun fact: For this movie, Jo Jung-suk won the Best New Actor trophy at the 33rd Blue Dragon Film Awards, while Suzy was named Best New Actress at the 48th Baeksang Arts Awards. Suzy was also nicknamed “the nation’s first love” after appearing in this film.

I must also say that I super love Lee Je-hoon and Suzy’s chemistry! This is probably why I rooted for their older versions to have a second shot at love. A wish that didn’t come to fruition in the ending, but I’m totally sold with it. Sometimes, it’s better not to rekindle an old flame especially if it will burn and hurt someone else. In Seung-min and Seo-yeon’s case, it’s the former’s fiancée Eun-chae (Go Joon-hee). Despite this, the reconnection between the two didn’t totally go to waste because they’re still able to validate the fact that they’re each other’s first love, and that alone is more than enough. The ending where Seo-yeon listens to her portable CD player sent to her by Seung-min, who is shown aboard a plane to the U.S. together with Eun-chae, is my most favorite part of the movie. It felt very realistic as not every love story has its happy ending, but hey, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s sad. It’s just that there are people we met who are only meant to stay as beautiful memories.

Final verdict: As pretty as the memory of that day when your heart first skipped a beat. 4/5

~All credits for the video and stills used in this review go to Myung Films and Lotte Entertainment.

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