Postmodernism

Inventing Anna review: ‘Fake heiress’ drama is a hit

But hang in there, because halfway through it hits its stride, finding both focus and heart, with a few episodes that do well to immerse us more fully in the experiences of two of America’s friendliest seagulls. Anna: a hanged dog lawyer convinced to help him with his business plans (played by ER Anthony Edwards, disappearing in a quagmire of middle-aged despair) and Neff (a luminous Alexis Floyd), the real-life janitor of hotel that Anna befriended while racking up so many unpaid hotel bills. Both are portrayed with compassion, and through them, crucially, we come to better understand Anna’s relative appeal in New York’s authorized class milieu: for all her obnoxious abrasiveness, she has a joy of live perverse and autodidact which distinguishes it. , it is implied, from his self-indulgent and supposedly peers.

As Anna’s deception spirals and then unravels, the series also gains considerable natural momentum. There’s a reason why Rhimes, one of the big, popular TV makers of the modern era, got the rights so quickly, because it’s simply a brilliant thread – and, as someone with a bent for a scandalous story, she knows how to make the most of it. In particular, an episode centering on an ill-fated getaway by Anna and her friends to a luxury resort in Morocco – a stay she obviously can never afford – is a masterful exercise in building tension and stomach dropping. Elsewhere, it’s filled with too-perfect details that compel you to go back to the original reports to check if they’re actually true – and the answer is, for the most part, yes. Yes, Anna reportedly slept in the loft of Fyre festival founder Billy McFarland; and yes, she managed to scam a private jet to take her to a conference hosted by Warren Buffett. It’s also true that, like Vivian, Pressler was pregnant as she pursued the story, giving her a unique type of delay – and that, like Vivian, she was embroiled in a journalism scandal several years ago in which she was herself duped by another fraudulent youngster, a fake millionaire boy.

However, it is Vivian’s design that is one of the series’ weak points. Veep’s Anna Chlumsky is a wonderfully grounded on-screen presence — sardonic, warm, and extremely intelligent — and given that Pressler is a producer, you’d imagine she had a hand in making Vivian as true to life as she was. she would like it. But nonetheless, the character’s arc – as she argues with her husband over his commitment to the story and converts the wall of her future baby’s bedroom into an investigative bulletin board, a la crime drama style, before its waters break at a crucial moment – feels lumpen and cliché. And also placing Vivian in such blatantly unethical locks with Anna’s defense attorney, Todd Slovek (played by Succession’s Arian Moayed) is a jarring narrative ploy (presumably, at least).

Meanwhile, Garner gives the kind of big, catchy performance that immediately draws you in with a certain comic breadth – she’s amused by Anna’s untraceable European accent, her unaffected drawl, smirk and pursed lips of disdain. But as the series progresses, it also reveals different shades and nuances: at one moment Anna might seem irrefutably confident, and the next, hopelessly out of this world and vulnerable; in one scene, she is a haughty aesthete, in another a shameless self-portraitist. “Anna Delvey” may be an invention, in more ways than one, but the tricks of Garner’s performance and script make us wonder who the “real” Anna is – and what that would mean. same.

Indeed, the real trick this series pulls off is that it manages to be both brash, brilliant and entertaining and more, more intricate than it looks, offering enough interesting commentary on modern business, the nature of identity and the morality of storytelling. to justify its tabloid entertainment value.

★★★★☆

Inventing Anna premieres Friday on Netflix.

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