The first person who made your heart race so fast, you feel like it's going to jump out of your chest. The first person who filled your mind so often, you didn't even have a chance to deny that all you think about is them. The first person who made you want to do everything for them, you didn't care what it is as long as it made them happy. And many more other "first person who…".
It also includes the best friend (acted by Jo Jung Suk), also known as the funny friend, who will always try his best to help you. And whether or not you agree with his ideas and suggestions, chances are you will take up his advice. I'm sure we all have at least one friend who plays this role… don't we?
The film sees two adults, Lee Seung Min (Uhm Tae Woong) and Yang Seo Yeon (Han Ga In), who were each others' first loves, meeting each other again after nearly two decades. It is Yang who looks for Lee because she wants him to reconstruct her old home in Jeju (he is an architect; they met each other because of an architecture module). As the film progresses, we move between the present and the past (young Lee and young Yang played by Lee Je Hoon and Bae Suzy respectively)- we see how they first met, how they became friends and got closer, how a misunderstanding formed and how it caused them to drift apart.
Although it does seem as though there is a chance that they can have a second shot at love, Lee is engaged and will be married in a month (his fiancee isn't too happy about the last minute changes that Yang has made, which will extend the duration of the reconstruction project). Lee does ask Yang why she has specifically looked for him, a question spurred by the discovery of her still keeping the model of her dream house that he has made for her last time.
I am going to spoil the ending for you because I want to include what Han Ga In has shared with us what she thinks about it. Her answer really makes you think, though, about what you would do if faced with the same situation.
"The film has a realistic ending and we wanted the viewers to leave with a feeling of regret. I think that we've done it," she said.
Which is why, while I wouldn't say that Architecture 101 is a must-watch, I feel that anybody who has had a first love can add this film to their 'Can-Watch' list. It not only makes you reminiscent of that special past but also makes you wonder: what would happen if my first love suddenly re-appears in my life?
Okay, so on to the four leads of the film.
I personally feel that Suzy's character (young Yang) didn't really allow her to showcase more of what she is capable of, although she is a character that most of us can relate to. However, I must say that I can see why she has become the nation's icon of a first love. She embodies a first love; she carried and portrayed very well that air of purity and innocence (that girls the age of her character has). Also, pardon the moment of fangirling but Suzy looked really pretty in the film.
Han Ga In, on the other hand, has more emotions to play around with. Her character, after all, is a grown-up woman and has more complex emotions that she may or may not hide. I just finished watching The Moon That Embraces The Sun not too long ago and I feel that as compared to Heo Yeon Woo (her character in The Moon That Embraces The Sun), Yang Seo Yeon offered her with more to explore and experiment with. Once again, pardon the moment of fangirling but I just cannot get over how beautiful Han Ga In is. That aside, I didn't really feel her crying scenes. It could be just me, though.
The male leads, however, stole the show for me. It could be because nearly everything was played from the men's perspective; it mainly focused on how Lee began developing feelings for Yang and how he coped with the heartache. Which is interesting because one would expect to hear the girl's side of the story, especially since it began with the girl looking for the boy. Between Uhm Tae Woong and Lee Je Hoon, though, I choose the latter.
It is not because he is that eye-candy from Fashion King but because he delivered his character (young Lee) very well. From the look in his eyes when he was stealing glances at Yang on the bus to the way his face would light up whenever he was with her. And yes, all the way to when he thought he has completely lost her and when he told her to leave his life. The way the eyes come alive and the way emotions pour out of them are what breaks my heart the most often, so being able to see and understand how heartbroken he was through his eyes really made me want to give him a brotherly pat on the shoulder.
Older Lee is played by Uhm Tae Woong and I can definitely see how the younger actor can grow into the older actor. I personally like Uhm Tae Woong and I really liked his way of expressing the "I don't know why you are doing this but I will follow what you say anyway" complements very well with Lee Je Hoon's "I like you so I'm going to do whatever I can for you". The feelings carried on nicely from one character to another, from one actor to another. I felt that this was somewhat lacking between the younger and older Yang but then again, it could be just me.
I was rooting for them to get together from beginning until the end, despite knowing that they will not and they cannot. Lee is someone's fiance and he will be getting married to her in a month's time! If he abandoned his fiancee for his first love, then I wouldn't think of him as a man good enough to be with. I mean, I don't see much assurance in the relationship if he can leave the woman he has sworn to love- well, they are nearly there- for someone he used to love and who suddenly re-appeared in his life.
It is good, though, that he has somewhat acknowledged that Yang is someone he used to love- an unforgettable first love, in fact- and that his fiancee is who he loves and will continue loving. That said, because I am someone who really dislikes it when people who love each other cannot be together, it would have been nice if they could end up together.
On the other hand, the end product of the reconstruction made me want to move to Jeju and live in a similar house. How can anybody resist waking up to the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore and how can anybody not want a full, unobstructed view of the sea?
I have heard people saying that this film shows us how first loves don't usually last. I cannot completely agree with them because I still believe in fairytales (but I refuse to admit that I'm a diehard romantic). And also because while first loves may not last, memories of that "first person who…" and feelings you have felt so deeply for them last- and they last for a long, long time.