An intriguing short that does a fair amount with very little, it kicks off Netflix’s Persona fairly well.
This review is for the first segment of Netflix’s Persona, titled Persona: Love Set. It contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free thoughts on the full season by clicking these words.
Lee Kyoung Mi’s Love Set is the first segment of Netflix’s Persona anthology, and it’s a low-key start to the collection. With little surreality or outlandishness — aside from singer-actress IU and Kingdom and Sense8‘s Bae Doona playing themselves — it’s a relatively straightforward story about a daughter’s perhaps unreasonable affections for her father, and her perhaps misguided suspicions of his new partner.
IU plays the daughter, both as a sassy young woman and as a naive little girl, depending on whether she’s interacting with her father or his potential wife-to-be (Doona). Persona: Love Set concerns a game of tennis, first between Doona and IU’s father as IU tries to bribe a dorky observer to seduce Doona, and then between IU and Doona, with considerably higher stakes.
Love Set is, at its core, about growing up; about one day having to realize that no matter how much you want something, and how hard you work to make it happen, some things are beyond your control. We never get a sense of why IU is so determined to not allow her father to marry Doona (she’s a bit smug, and she’s a prospective mother-in-law, so I understand it to a degree) but it hardly seems like the point. If IU wins the match, Doona says she won’t marry her father; problem is, IU can’t win the match.
I wonder about the effectiveness of the outcome. IU gets smoked during the game, eventually so sweaty and bloody that she collapses to her knees in defeat. But Doona, out of respect, maybe, or good sense in realizing that IU probably wouldn’t ever drop the issue, agrees not to marry her father. And the game continues.
If the story of Love Set is about learning to grow up and let go and to let people make their own decisions even if those decisions aren’t in their best interests, then Doona agreeing to do what IU wants undermines that, somewhat. But a lot of the short is open to interpretation, and perhaps other people will read it differently. Either way, Love Set, which occasionally coming across as a little leery, is a well-made and intriguing short film that takes does a fair amount with very little.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.