Rediscovering Lucy Liu in the new Netflix romantic comedy, Set it Up

Rediscovering Lucy Liu in the new Netflix romantic comedy, Set it Up


Text: Megan Koh

Image: Getty Images

Lucy Liu is not your typical rom-com character in Netflix’s new film, Set it Up

When was the last time we saw Lucy Liu in something? While the 49-year-old Asian-American actress has cemented her A-list status with iconic roles from the legendary Charlie's Angels (2004) to martial arts epic, The Man with the Iron Fists (2012), it has been a while since we were struck by the actress on screen. While Liu has recently lent her voice to several movies including the popular Kung Fu Panda franchise, the spotlight hasn't been this fixed on her until the release of Netflix's new film, Set it Up.

Available now, we see Liu returning to the big but mobile screen in a refreshing and well-dimensioned performance as a vicious boss and reputed sports journalist, Kirsten Stevens. The story chronicles the journey of two bullied assistants Harper (played by Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (played by Glen Powell) who unite to set up their horrid bosses, Kirsten Stevens and Rick (played by Taye Diggs) together. Inspired by the classic romantic comedies of the 1940s, Set it Up is a modern-day interpretation of dreams, identity and love.

Romantic comedies have often been touted as a thing of the past, left behind in the 2000s after audiences grew out of the plots' formulaic cycles and clichés. It seemed like nothing new and memorable was being made and fans of the genre had to re-watch classics like When Harry Met Sally (1989) or Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) to reignite the eternal flame heating up a good rom-com. But with Netflix's new push of the genre with adorable releases like Set it Up and The Kissing Booth (2018), the streaming service is revamping the genre to the approval of many. Set it Up renews the scene with attention and adoration, with fans applauding the clever dialogue, personable plot and colourful performances.

Delivering a teasing chemistry with Diggs, Liu revels in her own delight in a polished and timeless act. Directed by Claire Scanlon (who's directed Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Champions and Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and written by Katie Silberman (who co-produced How to be Single), Set It Up is in good, promising hands. Describing Kirsten as "bold, broad and colourful", Liu admires her on-screen character and addresses her complexities with sensitivity, restraint and thought. Kirsten borrows Liu's trademark aloofness that eases splendidly into an acute, stern delivery. A tough love performance fashioned into brilliant perfection, Liu layers her no-nonsense character with quiet, growing affections for her endearing personal assistant, Harper.

Shining the spotlight on female unity and empowerment, Liu herself has expressed approval on the film's direction and development. The Netflix movie treads into familiar rom-com grounds but engages with its sincere narrative and engaging characters. We all connected with Harper when she scrolled through Tinder for the first time in naïve glee, laughed with Charlie over his childish excitement for his hot model girlfriend, and groaned when Kirsten confessed that she was tired of baby showers and the pressure to get married. Catalysed by the struggles of working millennials in the world, the film ventures into a fusion of romance and comedy with a story kept light and bright. Set it Up is your modern day romantic comedy done right, and a chance to rekindle our romance for the ass-kicking Liu.

Watch Set it Up on Netflix here.
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