For a sports enthusiast, there are a number of reasons why one should watch this latest documentary on the controversial tennis champion Naomi Osaka. Be it her rise from practising in the public courts as a toddler to playing her first-ever Grand Slam final against her idol Serena Williams, this compelling series shows you the journey of a young girl who realised her dreams at a tender age of 20, and her ensuing battle of finding a purpose and meaning in life.
Here, we have five reasons why you should watch this Netflix docuseries:
#1 A contemplative and riveting watch
Filmmaker Garrett Bradley uses his slow-burning, contemplative, and narrative-themed style of filmmaking to absolute perfection as some of his well-edited sequences keep the viewers hooked with the ebb and flow of the documentary’s linear progression while building a solid foundation for the climax of each episode. Bradley goes to great lengths at letting the central theme take precedence in dictating the narrative progression while giving viewers the choice of taking their own stance rather than thoughtlessly consuming the message the filmmaker and the athlete intend to send.
Also Read – REVIEW: “Naomi Osaka” – The docuseries
#2 A deeper dive into Naomi’s life
This series explores the sides and edges of Naomi’s life that otherwise go ignored in case of athletes amidst the glory of their successes or the criticism of their failures. The part that lies in between the absolute highs and lows is often overlooked and less spoken about. Bradley delicately uses the talking-head interviews to set the tone for each segment, which then provides a closer look at the life of a young athlete who is transitioning from teenage to adulthood while being honest about her dreams, her ambitions, her vulnerabilities and her conflicts, with all the rawness and responsibility each of those extremities holds.
#3 Naomi’s slow yet gradual progression
This series is broken down into three segments – “The Rise”, “Champion Mentality”, and “The New Blueprint.” As each title suggests, the series follows Osaka’s gradual progression from the age of 20 to 22. The first episode starts with home-made footage of Naomi and her sister Mari practising on the public courts as toddlers, and as the storyline slowly progresses, we get to witness her sudden rise to fame and stardom, the subsequent imbalance it creates in the life of a youngster who is still navigating her way through a sea of obstacles, her loss of purpose and finding a new path in this fast-paced and ruthless world.
#4 An attempt at bridging the gap between the athletes and the fans
There has always been this gap in communication or acknowledgement between the athletes and the fans. The athletes train and fight throughout their lives just to be good at a particular sport, while for us fans, our emotions and perceptions are entirely dependent on our own snippets of time we spend watching these athletes play and perform at the highest level. And with modern technological advancements and social media, never before has the scrutiny been this harsh on the players. Even some sections of people can go as far as racially abusing these athletes and giving them death threats. Garrett Bradley, here, tries to bridge this gap by sharing those less-spoken-about aspects of an athlete’s life, be it the self-recorded snippets that he was given access to, or the self-reflective voiceover narrations of Naomi.
#5 A reflection of today’s youth
During her 22nd birthday dinner, Naomi asked her mother whether what she had achieved until that point was acceptable or if she expected more from her daughter. This series follows her journey for two years and shows Naomi’s rise from a shy and quirky teenager to one of the leading global voices in her sport. In flashes, the series does show us the child inside her. Be it her giggles, her asking whether she could get drunk on champagne, her Pikachu-decorated bed, her curiosity, and her open stance – all of these resonate with today’s youth. They want to be leaders. They want to create a path for themselves. But they also want to hold onto their guilty pleasures and their cheap thrills. This series is a deep dive into the trials and tribulations of a young woman and her willingness to keep improving and be the best version of herself.