Inventing Anna – Review

Netflix’s latest TV show, Inventing Anna, hit screens last Friday. After watching the very long nine episodes, I keep thinking: was a series really necessary to tell that story?

Produced by the industrial giant showrunner Shonda Rhimes, Inventing Anna follows the story of a young woman who fools the New York elite by pretending to be a millionaire German heiress. Anna Delvey was only 25 and she was very good at convincing people about her story. Perhaps she could have been more involved in the process of creating the series, and so the series could have been more enjoyable. She lied to many people in an attempt to make her dream (a club for high society) come true — and also acquire “free” luxury goods and live in the best hotels.

The first episode was a set-up for failure in this particular drama: it spends a lot of time on the journalist’s perspective. If she had become somebody we cared about on the show, it would have worked. Vivian, interpreted by Anna Chlumsky, was a journalist interested in writing an article about Anna. She was at the right place to be our point of view. However, the way the writers decided to picture her kills any opportunity of identification that we could have. She is obsessed with the article and even neglects her pregnancy and marriage, losing her humanity.

This proves to be a major problem in the series: we do not care about any character. From Vivian to Anna’s lawyer and friends, everyone is concentrating on Anna. Although the show is about her and this kind of structure to portray someone is very valid, the characters are written as flat, unilateral.

As an example, Neff (Alexis Floyd) builds a friendship with Anna. We see a bit of her background: an aspiring filmmaker who is having trouble making her first film. At one moment, people point out that she is not doing enough to realize her dream (as a filmmaker, I totally relate to her struggles, and it is not that simple, especially for a black woman). So we expect her to begin to put more energy into it, but she is working increasingly to help Anna. The story must decide whether it shows the supporting characters only as supporting pieces on the main storyline or extends their backgrounds. Abandoning their things to focus on Anna just doesn’t work.

It’s hard also to cope with so much exposition. We understand that this is an investigative structure, but everything is brought to light by dialogue.

On the other side, it’s great to see Julia Garner putting her finger on Anna’s accent. Her performance is the crowning achievement of the show. Thanks to her, one can feel many things about this character who is very contradictory. We could receive no less from the actress who makes Ruth the star of Ozark. However, the show doesn’t give Garner justice. We expect her to deliver what she came for, but that never happens.

But if anything, the show gets you interested in Anna and her crimes. We crave to understand how she is able to do everything she did. Sometimes romanticizing, unfortunately. It gets the audience, and for sure I can imagine that a lot of people are binge-watching it. I just wish it was five hours less.

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