Double Movie Feature : Unrequited Love – ’96 (2018) / Architecture 101 (2012)

Hello and welcome to another Double movie feature!

Here we go through two works of art that are uncannily similar but in reality have no relation with each other at all. This isn’t a sort of piracy call out but rather a look to see how the idea of Unrequited Love has played out in these two different plots, characters and settings.

I’ve done a few double features before but this might be the most closely matched pair of movies ever. In this post we will talk about the movies in question which will be followed by spoiler free reviews. Sometimes I prefer this double movie review format to a single review format I usually do simply because it’s more fascinating!

Now, let me explain the theme of “Unrequited Love” a little more before we check out the movies. The setting of both the movies are like this – our lead characters meet each other during their youth especially as they’re in the same class together (be it school or college, whichever applies). They share a special bond and grow closer but before they can officially proclaim their feelings entirely to each other, circumstances force them to separate almost immediately. They meet each other next, years later after their life has changed entirely from how it was when they were together. Do their feelings still remain? If they do, how do they work past that? Would the reality of life or the yearning of unrequited love, take over?

Now this plot might be familiar to you probably not in just the two movies I’ve mentioned but many other movies that come to your mind. That is very possible as this is a very popular theme. However please note the reason I chose these two movies in particular is because the whole movie is about the unrequited love. Sometimes, in other cases it may be more of a sub-plot.

So what are the two movie we are looking into today? The first one is a 2018 Tamil movie called ’96 (which indicates the year 1996). When I was watching the movie at the theatres back in 2018 I was instantly reminded of this other movie that I’ve watched which is the second movie in our discussion today – the 2012 South Korean movie “Architecture 101”. So let’s get into it!

’96 (2018)

Before we start let me highlight my favourite tracks from the movie. This movies soundtrack was AMAZING, so I have a hard time choosing my favourites but for now I will go with – Kaathalae Kaathalae and Antaathi. You can listen to the complete soundtrack album as you read this post by clicking this Spotify link! Now onto the review!

Theatrical release poster

Title : ’96

Country of origin : India

Language : Tamil

Directed and written by : C Premkumar

Produced by : S Nanthagopal (Production company – Madras Enterprises)

Starring : Vijay Sethupathi, Trisha, Aadithya Bhaskar, Gouri G Kishan

Music : Govind Vasantha

Cinematography : Mahendiran Jayaraju and N Shanmugha Sundaram

Released : 4 October 2018

Duration : 158 minutes

Genre : Romance

Vijay Sethupathi as Ram

We are introduced to the first main character – Ram, who is a travel photographer. On one of his trips he visits his old high school and seems to be drowned in memories.

Soon, via a Whatsapp group between all the members from the said high school a reunion for the batch of ’96 is arranged and Ram meets his friends after a long time. It’s at that point that he hears Jaanu would be coming, and we see his shocked face spiral into a flashback.

From left to right Aadithya Bhaskar as Young Ram and Gouri G Kishan as a young Jaanu

We go back to the year 1996 where we are introduced to the innocent and young love between Jaanu, who loves singing, and Ram who seems to have his eyes only for Jaanu. After the exams that year the two agree to meet after their vacation and the flashback ends there.

Trisha as Jaanu

We come back to the present and it’s apparently clear that Jaanu and Ram never met after that vacation in 1996 or something happened after they made their promise. Jaanu is now settled in Singapore with her husband and child and is also shocked to hear that Ram has arrived for the farewell.

The story then details Ram and Jaanu meeting after many years and under new circumstances and how they deal with their feelings which still remain.

The movie is mainly centred around some flashbacks and the rest are set on the day of the reunion party and the events that follow in the short span of time that Ram and Jaanu are together.

The two had never gotten to a point where they opened their feelings to each other, and due to constraints in communication, there were a lot of gaps that were there that ended their love story. To the generation who knows worldwide instantaneous communication it seems sad that their fate led to this and our mind is always filled with the “what if’s”.

The responses of the characters are as expected, but there are many scenes in the movie where we think it’s going to steer off like how the scene intends to drive our imagination, but the best part of the movie is that it didn’t steer into the unnecessary theatrics or drama like that. In that sense, I can say it remained very real and raw, for the audience who heart is with Ram and Jaanu, a reality check is in store. There are no cliffhangers (or maybe there is one, but I guess it depends on how you view it, I expected that one) as such but that doesn’t make this movie boring at all, in fact I appreciate the simplicity that this movie decides to adopt over dramatic elements.

When life catches you by surprise

Another star of this movie is for sure the soundtrack. Govind Vasantha excelled here as the emotions were captured PERFECTLY in the soulful, soothing music that made up the soundtrack of the movie. For a good part of 2018, the song Kaathale Kaathalae (which I’ve linked at the start of the review) was the most played song in almost everyone’s playlist at that time!

When there are younger and older versions of a role there is a chance for them to sometimes not sync as two separate actors play both the parts, or that one may overtake the other. ’96 is an exception to that as both the younger and the older cast members who played Jaanu and Ram did justice to the role. Yes there were changes owing to their new circumstances, age and experience but those were naturally fitting because don’t we all change with passing time?

The movie is set mostly around Chennai and includes locations like the T Nagar flyover bridge, the airport, the metro lines through the city. I’ve lived a while in Chennai and I enjoyed seeing all the familiar places surround characters that are very loved.

All in all, if you’re looking for a soothing, relatable, raw film without any theatrics and an amazing soundtrack about unrequited love, then this is the movie for you!

You can check out the trailer for the movie here – Official trailer with English sub.

And now onto the second movie in this feature!

Architecture 101 (2012)

To begin with here’s my and probably everyone’s favourite track when it comes to the movie – Etude of memories by Kim Dong Ryul. You can listen to the song as you read by clicking this Spotify link as well. Now onto the review!

Theatrical release poster

Title : Architecture 101 (English), 건축학개론 (Korean, trans. Introduction to architecture), Geonchukhakgaeron (Romanized)

Country of origin : South Korea

Language : Korean

Directed and Written by : Lee Yong Ju

Produced by : Shim Jae Myung and Lee Eun (Production company : Myung films, Distribution : Lotte Entertainment)

Starring : Uhm Tae Woong, Han Ga In, Lee Je Hoon, Suzy

Music : Lee Ji Soo

Cinematography : Jo Sang Yoon

Released : 22 March 2012

Duration : 118 minutes

Genre : Romance

From left to right, Han Ga In as Yang Seo Yeon and Uhm Tae Woong as Lee Seung Min

It’s the present day, in Seoul and architect Lee Seung Min is approached by a woman Yang Seo Yeon for designing a new home at her parents home on Jeju Island. He soon comes to realise that she is the same Seo Yeon he knew 17 years ago. He draws several plans for her all of which she doesn’t like. The two finally decide to renovate the existing home itself and travels to Jeju and spends time together and works on it, much to the annoyance of Seung Mom’s fiance. It’s at this time that we are brought to the flashback.

From left to right, Suzy as young Yang Seo Yeon and Lee Je Hoon as young Lee Seung Min.

Seung Min and Seo Yeon are shown to be in the same college years ago, and share a class called “Architecture 101”. Seung Min likes Seo Yeon but thinks she likes another guy in their college and doesn’t approach her.

However, the two soon start working together for their shared classwork and grow closer together. Seung Min gathers his courage and guidance from his friend to tell Seo Yeon how he feels about her. He asks her to meet him at the abandoned home they spend time together on the day of the first snowfall of the year (it’s said two people who spend time together on the first snow fall of the year will fall in love, it’s a popular term in Hallyu movies and dramas).

The audience is unsure what happened that day as both of them are now on their separate paths. The movie then shows the two, now adults reveal what happened to them over the years and grow closer and come to terms to their feelings on the beautiful island of Jeju.

Now that you’ve read the plot you understand the uncanny similarity I was talking about right? Hehe!

This movies plot, just like the previous one is a real and steady plot without any unnecessary theatrics. The reliance of the movie on the flashback is a little more in this movie and it was very well done as they nailed many of the elements that are nowhere to be seen that were popular in the 90s. It’s also said that this movie increased the popularity of such items after its release too and I’m not surprised why it did instill that curiosity.

Coming to the actors, like I mentioned before, flashback scenes always are a risk of either timeline and the cast involved to overtake the other or go out of sync, but this movie made sure to strike the right balance which made it easy for us as the audience to connect and empathise with the characters in their youth and when they’re adults.

The setting of the movie is mostly around the college, the abandoned building they net up often in the flashback and on the picturesque Jeju Island in the present. Seung Min had made a promise to Seo Yeon when they were young that he would build her a home in the future and that always resounds in our mind as the couple spends an increasing amount of time time together on the renovation.

In fact the entire process of renovation is when they bond together and reveal all the details whereas in the previous movie it’s until it’s time for her to catch her return flight.

If you’ve loved the plethora of Korean films out there, then this real, raw and relatable romance film should surely be on your watch list!

You can check out the trailer for the movie by clicking here – Trailer with English subtitles.

And that’s it’s for this double feature! We have a lot of movies that satisfy the hopeless romantic in all of us but my personal favourite are these kinds of films that give you a glance at the real side of life. Yes it’s sad, but sometimes life doesn’t always go your way and compared to the usual trove of romance movies these will end up being movies we remember longer (mainly due to the pain) . What do you think? Have you watched these or any of the movies? Do you have any recommendations with this theme? Let me know in the comments!

Image courtesy : Google Image search

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