After seeing the premiere episode at AFI Docs last month, I finally got to catch up with the remaining episodes of Netflix’s upcoming docuseries, Naomi Osaka, directed by Garrett Bradley (who you may know from directing last year’s Time). If you haven’t read my review of that episode, you can read it below.
I feel like, for the past two years, my life’s been constant, like, “go, go, go!”
What I remember liking about the premiere episode transfers right on over to this episode. Bradley starts this episode by showcasing the utter chaos of what is either a press day or a sponsorship shoot and, by extension, her inner anxiety about doing such a public-facing event. There’s this sense that all the people who Osaka works with are yes men and yes women, who force her into situations where she doesn’t feel comfortable. So many documentarians focus on the impact the subject of the documentary had on a certain movement, and I appreciated Bradley focusing on Osaka herself and the world surrounding her. If there is one misstep by Bradley in this episode, it’s the blink, and you miss it dismissal of her father, Leonard François, as her tennis coach. It’s a little thing, but for a docuseries, I would have preferred more time spent on such a big moment for Osaka’s career.
I’m just the vessel for whatever she [Mari Osaka, her sister] wants to do.
Expanding on that world is cinematographer Jon Nelson, who I still believe has a keen eye for how to visually portray Osaka’s inner thoughts and anxieties through what’s happening around her. For example, there’s a scene early on where she is surrounded by phones recording the gorgeous models around her at New York Fashion Week. The sequence is hypnotic, and it’s not the only time Nelson pulls this off. There’s a later scene with a man building Osaka’s tennis racket that’s equally as hypnotic. Not to sound like a broken record, but Nelson’s ability to pull the viewer into the world of tennis and create an appreciation for the sport itself is astounding.
You will make false steps. That doesn’t mean you are defined by them.
The topping on the cake is the score by Devonté Hynes and Theodosia Roussos. The duo turns away from the last episode’s angelic tone into a more frenzied score that focuses on harsh strings and plenty of looping synths, reflecting Osaka’s struggle with her mental health amidst brand deals and the death of her mentor.
I didn’t text him that because I felt like a loser, and now, I won’t get to talk to him again.
Naomi Osaka, I think I can finally say, is one of my favorite documentaries of all time. All departments are hitting on all cylinders, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
The three-part docuseries, Naomi Osaka, will premiere on Netflix on July 16th.
Until next time!