I’ll be the first to admit, when I heard the name Naomi Osaka, I had no idea who she was, outside of the recent news that she announced she wouldn’t take place in any French Open media assignments, resulting in her withdrawal from the tournament and further withdrawal from the Wimbledon Championships. I haven’t watched a tennis match in at least ten years, and when I did watch tennis matches, I only watched one or two US Open matches a year.
No one really knows the sacrifices you make…just to be good.
In Naomi Osaka, your level of knowledge of tennis or the subject of the docuseries, Naomi Osaka, doesn’t come into a factor here. Director Garrett Bradley, who you may know from last year’s Time, doesn’t focus on Osaka’s career right away. Instead, she starts the docuseries by providing background on Osaka’s childhood so that when Bradley does provide some of the background behind her career, it only works to enhance the viewer’s enjoyment of the tennis matches and how much of a mentally tasking sport tennis is.
So, should you binge Naomi Osaka, or should you check something else out on Netflix?
Before I won the US Open, I was kind of flying under the radar.
Cinematographer Jon Nelson provides visual breathing space for the viewer to reflect on Osaka’s pressure to be a modern and successful tennis player. There is a scene where Osaka is practicing her serve at some kind of training facility with tons of Dutch angles, and B-roll that, paired with the angelic score by Devonté Hynes and Theodosia Roussos and Osaka’s subtle VO, pulls the viewer into Osaka’s mind, if only for a moment. It’s a place of chaos amid success, and it’s some of the best work I’ve seen in a TV show for a long time.
If this is just the beginning of what Garrett Bradley and team have to offer, I think Naomi Osaka will go down as one of my favorite television shows of the year, as well as the best documentary I’ve ever seen. Regardless, you can expect a review of the remaining two episodes when they release on Netflix.
Naomi Osaka premieres on Netflix on July 16th.
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Until next time!