Shonda Rhimes was taken aback by Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People” that she adapted the same, under her banner Shondaland, into a nine-episode Netflix series, Inventing Anna that has taken the world by a storm. Based on the grand larceny committed by Anna Sorokin, who posed as a fake German heiress and scammed hundreds and thousands of dollars from the rich in the United States, under the alias name of Anna Delvey, the series lays open a shocking case based on real-life events.
The series stars Anna Chlumsky as Vivian Kent, a fictionalised take on Jessica Pressler, who is so intrigued by Anna’s case that she decides to delve deeper into the same. Hindered by various obstacles, including uninterested editors and her burgeoning pregnancy, Kent makes her way to find out more about the elusive and intriguing Anna Delvey who managed to con the American elite. The real-life Anna Delvey had protested against how the series told her story from a journalist’s perspective- I agree with her, given the enigma that she is, Delvey deserved better representation in the series.
Julia Garner does a great job of attempting to humanise the character with a ridiculous accent and an over-the-top portrayal of the cold, brutal and egotistical SoHo scammer with her piercing and calculative observation skills. After her brilliant performance as Ruth Langmore in Ozark, Garner establishes her prolific acting skills again with her role as Delvey.
She prevails like a cult leader with a magnetic personality who captivates her friends and social acquaintances to believe in her. The face of the new American Dream, Delvey’s fraudulence is a blistering commentary on how far one might go to “make it here”.
However, the nine-hour long odyssey gets incredibly boring with each passing second. While one would expect a pacy, riveting and detailed account of Delvey’s meteoric and mysterious rise to fame and opulence, it takes several episodes to detail Kent’s struggle as a journalist. It is moments like this that made me think about how precise and scintillating the actual article was in comparison with the total dullard series.
Kent’s obsessive behaviour to know more about Anna and the constant obstacles in her path might make one skip through the repetitive scenes- Chlumsky, herself, does not make it any better. As soon as the series takes Delvey to the courtroom, things heat up and get a tad bit more interesting, as Kent’s frustration and her colleague journalists’ lack of productivity was gnawing at my brains.
All in all, Inventing Anna left me with mixed feelings. While I was glad to know more about Delvey, her nature, her compulsions and more, the length of the series and the lack of brevity made the message dissipate into white noise.
Nine hours and a few headaches later. I realised that the series had nothing more to offer than the Pressler article. And yes, Garner was a revelation! One can only wonder the kind of havoc Delvey could wreak had she teamed up with the epic con-man Simon Hayut, the Israeli Ponzi scheme mastermind from The Tinder Swindler.