Extraordinarily beautiful story-telling— Architecture 101 tells a story about college love in a past versus present style involving what could have been’s and what have been’s. However, if you’re looking for a happy ending romance or a romantic comedy, then it’s best you stray from Architecture 101 because it is definitely far from such. However, I can certainly say that Architecture 101 leaves you in good terms with the movie’s plot and is a definite reality check.
Architecture 101 is set in two key locations: the Seoul neighborhood of Jeong-Neung and Jeju Island. The amazing thing about Architecture 101 is that it uses the two locations in reference to the past and to the present. The two main locations vary in architecture that it reflects the past and present events of the characters.
But I’m getting too ahead of myself.
Architecture 101 tackles the first love between Lee Seung-min and Yang Seo-yeon during college, but 17 years after college. At present, the two aren’t together with Seo-yeon being single but divorced and Seung-min being engaged. Seo-yeon appears before Seung-min after 19 years with an adamant request to renovate her father’s house in Jeju Island. Seung-min isn’t excited for such an undertaking, but he remembers that he promised Seo-yeon, during college, that he’d design and build a house for her in a future. Because in their college years, Seung-min was studying to be an Architecture major while Seo-yeon was studying to become a Music major in piano. The two meet in, well, an architecture class. The movie continues in a manner that alternates between past events and present events with the past events being the explanation behind present events.
The movie is beautifully directed because the actors move fluidly and in a manner that they are meant to act. The actors also did a great job in portraying the set of emotions in a given scenario whether it’d be longing or frustrations; the actors execute the emotions with accuracy. The movie makes you feel that you are also swept by the events and can actually relate with the scenarios. While the movie was probably aimed to the female demographic, it has received greater appeal from the male audience because of the movie’s point of view. For most of the movie, the story focuses on the male lead rather than the female. While I could be sexist about the direction, I think it was for the best of the movie. Romance movies are all about the woman’s point of view, so Architecture 101 breaks that norm and goes for the male point of view. At most, the female’s point of view is shown during the present periods because the issue that pulled the two back together is the house she wants.
However, I would like to return on how Architecture 101 is brilliant in terms of incorporating the settings with the plot. A movie could be called Architecture 101 as long as it can incorporate themes related to architecture [did you mean: house building], but the director, Lee Yong-ju takes it a step further by making sure that the setting is consistent with the plot. For example, the events in the past all occur in the same location Jeong-neung while the present events occur mainly in Jeju Island. Jeong-neung is a depiction of a bustling life, which can be compared to that of a first love— full of activity. Jeju Island, on the other hand, is quiet and isolated, but has its own beauty. In a way, it depicts contentment or some form of acceptance towards what the first love has blossomed into.
Therefore I believe that Architecture 101 is wonderfully directed down to the smallest detail. It makes you feel and come with acceptance about first loves and how they’ll never be forgotten, but somehow, one has to let go of it when it doesn’t work out. It’s a great movie to watch, but don’t expect a legitimate happy ending, but a real one.
P.S. I should make a seal of approval (or ask someone to make me one).