Persona – Episode 1 “Love Set” Recap & Review

Game, Set, Match

Kicking off Persona’s four-part anthology series is Love Set, a surrealistic tennis match that acts as a metaphor of our warring emotions and conflicts than it does as a straight forward tale.

The story sees a girl named IU disgruntled with her Father for his relationship to fiance Doona. As she watches from the side, her Father and prospective wife spar together, trading hits in-sync with one another in a long, loud volley of hits. Greeted by her English male friend, IU watches on in silence with him as they play.

After the game, IU pleads with her Father not to get married to Doona which inevitably leads to the bad blood between her and Doona spilling over to the tennis court. Battling for their pride and vowing for IU’s Father’s affection, the two make a bet. A bet in which Doona intends to follow through with with ruthless conviction. Winning the game 4-0, Doona and IU slowly learn to respect one another on the pitch, leading to a touching moment late on before they finish the match with a newfound understanding for one another.

As a straightforward short film, Love Set is a little formulaic and bland, failing to establish much in the way of a compelling hook to really grab you. Artistically though, Love Set is a really interesting little film, one that plays out as a metaphor of our warring emotions and how we deal with conflict in our life.

When viewed through this lens, Love Set is actually quite a thought provoking film, backed up by a sickly sweet aesthetic and some unusual camera work. The multiple static shots while IU is sitting down contrasts beautifully with the quick flashes and overhead shots during the tennis game itself.

Given the quality of recent anthology successes, including Love, Death & Robots and South Korea’s excellent On Children, Persona is a much more intimate and artistic stab at this genre, one that begins as it means to go on, with a much more thought provoking and metaphorical look at emotions. It won’t be for everyone and it’s bound to alienate the masses but there’s a specific niche here that’s certainly going to resonate with some people.


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7 thoughts on “Persona – Episode 1 “Love Set” Recap & Review”

  1. Ok. First of all, I discovered your blog today and I can’t stop reading and commenting. I can’t help it! Sorry!!!
    I must say than I have a different (and maybe crazy) point of view.
    Imagine this:
    The father represents South Korea.
    The boyfriend represents the United States.
    Doona is an overseas successful Korean woman. She has the best of both worlds.
    IU is the next generation that fights for recognition. She may have conquered foreign eyes, but she still has a long way to go to get out of the shadow of Doona (according to her thoughts)
    Doona proves her strength, but finally gives IU the support to continue the success of Korean women.
    It is not in the eyes of others (neither of the father nor the boyfriend) the key to success, only in the strong, but still delicate, hands of these ladies.
    I can’t stop thinking in this feminist meaning. And the facts both woman used their own names.

  2. Hi,
    All your theory are interesting. I understand this story in different way. When ‘father’ said “I am not your father” I was thinking that he is saying it to IU.
    Soo when Donna said that she won’t marry IU’s dad, i see in this the underbelly.

  3. I don’t think Love, Set has anything to do with Lesbian over tones for several reasons.
    For one thing, and I hate to be that person, but IU wasn’t eating a peach, it was a nectarine, which is obvious from the fruit’s shiny surface (since everyone knows peaches are fuzzy). I don’t know if that takes away from any of the symbolism, but I feel like if the directors really wanted peaches, how hard could that have been to get?
    Second, why would IU ask her friend to seduce Doona away from her father if IU wanted her to herself? That wouldn’t make any sense, and just proves that the lesbian theory is wrong, or at the very least reaching.
    When Doona rubs her thumb on IU’s hand towards the end of their match I saw it as a sign of motherly affection almost, like “fine kid, you win since this means so much to you.” Making it into something sexual seems creepy to me.

  4. Since the beginning of the episode, I had the impression that it wasn’t a fight for the man, but the fight between Doona and IU’s feelings. Notice that when Doona is playing against the man, it’s like she’s faking it (moans included), but with IU they’re both being quite serious. And I agree with V, the peach scene was far too used for it to mean nothing.

  5. Thanks so much for reading the review and commenting V. This commentary is actually a really interesting way of viewing the episode and something I didn’t even consider before. It certainly brings up some thought provoking questions around the episode itself and based on your interpretation, certainly reinforces the notion that this is a much deeper episode than it first appears.

    A lot of what you mentioned really does bring some clarity into the episode’s themes and would, as you said, explain why IU is so angry and against her being someone’s boyfriend.

    Really appreciate your input, it certainly opened my eyes to a different way of viewing this episode!

  6. (I’m writing this everywhere but) 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 way she gets worked up about the guy being called her “boyfriend”, the fact that it’s 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.

  7. notice how the wound jumps from one leg to another when IU gets up off the ground to continue playing towards thr end of the episode

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