Shonda Rhimes’ Inventing Anna is the incredible true story of Anna Sorokin, who scammed her way through hundreds of hotel bills, lavish restaurants, and expensive trips, all the time claiming that she was a German heiress with a wealthy trust fund to back her up, and that she was in the business world to build a special social club for VIP artists. In the process, she deceives her friends and big banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The brand-new Netflix series was released on the same day that the real Anna Sorokin was released from prison. The series has gained significant popularity. Hannah Walton-Hughes reviews.
I think it is safe to say that I have never seen a series quite like it. This applies to both the positive and negative aspects of Inventing Anna. The fact that this story is based on truth is what adds to its real substance; I’m not sure if I would have continued watching had I not been so eager to find out what actually happened to the real Anna Sorokin. Or Anna Delvey, as she came to be known under her fake identity.
The story is based on a 2018 magazine feature (“How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People”) by journalist Jessica Pressler, represented by the character Vivian Kent in the series, a journalist who has a mark on her name, over an event that could easily been seen as nothing more than a misunderstanding, but which turned into a blow for her career. Vivian hopes that by telling the story of Anna, she will take a step in the direction of redeeming herself. However, her interest soon goes far beyond saving her own skin.
Over-acted, exaggerated, and unbelievable are the words I would use to describe the portrayal
Whilst the acting in this series is good on the whole, two actors stick out like sore thumbs, and really let the whole series down. Firstly, unfortunately, one of the two protagonists: Anna Chlumsky as Vivian. Over-acted, exaggerated, and unbelievable are the words I would use to describe the portrayal. Chlumsky’s facial expressions look like they have been lifted from a pantomime; no character, not even one under as much pressure as Vivian, ever needs to look that surprised and awkward all the time.
Besides her though, the rest of the news team are a pleasure to watch- they are loyal, funny, and extremely supportive of both Vivian and the story she is trying to write, even helping with her research.
The second actor who let the show down was Arian Moayed, who played Anna’s lawyer, Todd. Any authenticity that the character has is thrown out of the window when he starts sounding like a petulant child in need of a time-out. And surely it is not professional to continually yell at your client one minute, and treat her like your five-year-old daughter the next? Granted, the poor character portrait is partly due to the writing, but the acting doesn’t help in the slightest.
You can’t help but root for her at certain points
That being said, the absolute stand-out actor from the whole series is Julia Garner, who plays the enigmatic, dangerous and borderline-sociopathic, Anna Sorokin (or Delvey). She is incredible. With just the right balance of emotion and deadpan, she can leave the characters, and even the viewer, chilled to the bone. You can’t help but root for her at certain points, and she leaves you laughing one minute at her bluntness, and hating her guts the next, for the terrible way in which she deceives her supposed friends.
With the risk of sounding old and judgmental, one aspect of this series that I must criticise is the frankly excessive amount of swearing. Every other word seems to be the F-bomb, and more often than not, it is not at all necessary. Wouldn’t it have been much more impactful to save the profanities for the scenes where emotions ran particularly high? Inventing Anna has a plentiful supply of scenes like this, but, sadly, the impact of the swearing really loses its punch once you have heard the same swear a hundred times from the same character.
Whoever designed Anna’s outfits deserves a prize
The aesthetics of the show are brilliant. Despite the central location of the story being New York, the exotic locations to which Anna travels are allowed just the right amount of screen time, with the camera work conveying the beauty of the area perfectly. And whoever designed Anna’s outfits deserves a prize; her clothes are particularly striking during her court case in the last episode, where she insists on acquiring impressive outfits- she is not going down without being recognised as a fashion icon.
I think that the content of this series could have been condensed down from nine long episodes to four or five at the very most. The beginning of the series very successfully builds anticipation for what is to come. Then the storyline slowly slips downhill, meaning that I started having to make myself watch, just to get to end. Nevertheless, the last two episode pick up the intrigue once again; they are definitely binge-worthy. As a result, my interest went up, then down, then way up again.
Overall, I would recommend Inventing Anna. A certain amount of patience and commitment is needed to watch it, however, and to be honest, if you watched the first few and last few episodes, and then read a summary of the rest, that would probably be adequate. It may not be for everyone, but the exciting and unexpected twists and turns make up for the occasionally flat storyline.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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