Sunday, February 27, 2022

Inventing Anna

TV Show Name:
Inventing Anna
Year of Release: 2022
Created by: Shonda Rhimes
Directors: David Frankel, Ellen Kuras, Nzingha Stewart, Tom Verica, Daisy von Scherler Mayer 
Stars: Anna Chlumsky, Julia Garner, Arian Moayed, Katie Lowes, Alexis Floyd, Anders Holm, Anna Deveare Smith, Jeff Perry, Terry Kinney, Laverne Cox, Tim Guinee, Anthony Edwards, Rebecca Henderson, Armand Schultz, Kyle Beltran, Chris Cafero, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Tracy Pollan, Christopher Lowell, Kate Burton, Donna Murphy, Joshua Malina, Bryan Terrell Clark, Debra Mooney
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
View Trailer

Writer/Producer Shonda Rhimes who has made a name for herself with the very successful shows "Grey's Anatomy", "Scandal" and "Private Practice", has started her partnership with Netflix, with this limited series focused on a very publicized and recent, media case which centered around Anna Delvey/Sorokin, and how she nearly swindled some big institutions of millions of dollars. The narrative focuses on journalist Vivian Kent, who is very pregnant, and trying to re-establish herself, since one of her recent journalistic pieces exploded on her (the person she interviewed for that particular piece lied, painting her in the process as someone who forced the news article itself and basically portraying her as a poor journalist). She becomes aware of this young woman who is imprisoned, someone by the name of Anna Delvey, who was interacting with financiers, architects, technologists, all with the intent of starting a new type of prestige club in an iconic building in New York, and who has suddenly fallen from grace. Vivian wants to know who Anna is, how she managed to get that far in that procurement, and where everything started to crumble. For that matter, Vivian asks for help from Anna's lawyer, who initially refuses to interact and provide much help, the same going for some of Anna's supposed friends. But as Vivian visits Anna, and starts peeling away at the stories hailing from all these characters, her story becomes clearer and clearer. All this while Anna herself is going through a criminal trial, which may land her squarely in prison. 
"Inventing Anna" is an interesting show, and much like the recent documentary, "The Tinder Swindler" from Felicity Morris, once again demonstrates how social media at times creates and perpetuates illusions about individuals, illusions that can be leveraged to dazzle, extort and manipulate people. The show is constructed in a way, where each episode focuses on the point of view or insights of those closest to Anna, who can somehow help build the puzzle of who this character actually is. It's an interesting perspective, but one that is never truly well explored, since for the most part, the show illustrates the situations in which Anna was involved, but fails to go over the facade, over the glitz. For a mini-series this long, it's one that essentially illustrates in very broad strokes what happened with this person and her web of lies, but one that fails to also ask the questions of what prompted people to believe in her, and who Anna actually is (which is something that a fictional tale could take into a different level, by inserting a point of view, since this isn't after all a documentary). This lack of an actual storytelling with some actual depth, is where the show ultimately fails, since it goes for the sensational and most visible aspects of the story, while failing to mine or even build the journey of this person who comes from Germany with nothing, and who bamboozles so many of the high society in NY. In the end, the show is indeed watchable since it does have a very talented array of actors, and the production team is equally solid (the cinematographers include Maryse Alberti for instance), but it fails to be truly memorable, since for the most part these sketches of characters and situations are superficial, much like the social media devices that it uses to illustrate Anna's ascension.