‘Persona: Love Set’ | Netflix Review

April 11, 2019
Jonathon Wilson 7
Film, Netflix, Short Films


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.

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7 thoughts on “‘Persona: Love Set’ | Netflix Review

  • April 13, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    It’s odd that I haven’t yet seen it mentioned anywhere but to me it was obvious (through the ending shots) that the reason IU doesn’t want Doona to marry her father is because she’s in love with Doona herself, or they have some prior history. The ending shot of the way Doona, slightly sensually, touches her hand, put the whole thing in perspective – the peach metaphor (usually indicative of womanhood), the long drawn shots of them, the way she gets worked up about the guy being called her “boyfriend” by Doona, the fact that the segment is called “Love Set”, their conversation about what happens if either of them win, the way Doona finally says she won’t marry IU’s dad, etc. It was a fake-out, making it seem to be all about the dad, while it was actually about them.

    • April 14, 2019 at 3:39 am

      Yes, this is what the piece was about. It’s subtle and works really well. There is a lot of imagery to hint that IU lost her virginity to Doona – there’s a montage of moaning that starts between the father and doona but ends with doona and IU; the eating of the peach (a symbol of female oral sex), the blood running down IU’s leg – that we sometimes only get a shot of from below the knee to the nakle making it look like it could run down her inner thigh; the close-ups on the mouths and the sweat on either woman during their tournament; and finally, that thumb touch. I think the reviewer completely missed what this piece was about. On the surface, it’s a story about a girl who doesn’t want her dad to marry a woman; underneath, she feels out of control of her own love and sexuality and tries to fight this woman to make her see how hard she is willing to work and how far she is willing to go, even though she is disadvantaged in this scenario (not good at playing = being a young woman instead of a willing, male bachelor).

      • May 1, 2019 at 6:01 pm

        That is the exact symbolism I got from this short and I felt it was extremely well made! Everything was explained not in their dialogue or seemingly “superficial” story but their symbolism. At first you’d think it was a kid not liking their soon-to-be stepmother, but when you link all of the imagery and inserts of their body language and sounds, it’s not a jealousy of the dad and girlfriend but between IU and Doona. The symbolism was so easy to pickup yet subtle and it left the viewer a sense of satisfaction without it being too obvious. After watching “Love Set”, it felt like I solved a mystery and the satisfaction comes from not having the answer fed to me.

    • May 17, 2019 at 9:02 pm

      I watched it and was like… Am I the only one who sees that? But now, thanks to your discussion and comments, I’m happy to discover that I’m not alone when it comes to this interpretation. Phew… Good to know. I think I like this part of the this series the most. Subtle and yet very intriguing.

    • June 7, 2019 at 11:27 am

      But, why did she asked the man to seduce Doona in the first place?

      • November 24, 2019 at 4:55 pm

        Maybe she wants her father to see it… or maybe she can accept that Doona is interested in a man, but absolutely not her father, because it will be too difficult.

  • April 23, 2019 at 12:36 am

    Très mauvaise review, paresseuse et superficielle, à ton image, tu n’es pas un critique, ni meme un fanboy. Pour moi tu es une fangirl.

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