INVENTING ANNA Is Uninventive and, at Times, Excessive

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INVENTING ANNA Is Uninventive and, at Times, Excessive

By Movieguide® Contributor

INVENTING ANNA is a 2022 Netflix Original crime drama series created by Shonda Rhimes (SCANDAL and GREY’S ANATOMY). The series follows Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky), a pregnant journalist who investigates the elusive con-woman Anna Delvey (Julia Garner). Delvey goes on trial for scamming money from New York socialites. Kent cracks down on Delvey’s “girl boss” persona and manipulation tactics through her rigorous first-account interviews. The show is based on the real-life exploits of Anna Sorokin.

Ultimately, INVENTING ANNA is a tepid production. It delves into Delvey’s “snake oil” promises, her hedonistic moral compass, and her fierce relationship with Kent. Despite the standout performances, the series fails to articulate its complex themes. It contains unnecessary “F” bombs, intimate sex scenes, and a birth scene. The end product resembles a CW soap opera more than a high-budget Netflix Original. For a TV-MA show, adults should approach it with extreme caution.

To briefly recap, Anna Delvey faces an upcoming larceny court trial. Vivian Kent, a prestigious New York magazine employee, decides to write a piece on Delvey’s court case. Kent conducts an interview with Delvey in prison, but Delvey dodges most of her questions. Ambitious, Kent speaks to Delvey’s victims, including her former boyfriends, a fitness trainer, and Wall Street bankers. Kent faces anxiety while writing a huge piece and also giving birth to her first child.

In regards to worldview, INVENTING ANNA has shades of materialistic and Christian ideas. In the scenes related to Delvey’s past, she puts on a determined and deceiving face to her friends. Delvey spends exorbitant amounts of money on hotel trips, fashion gifts, and her own Manhattan building. She bankrupts several of her victims and deflects their questions rather than giving a straight answer. The show rightly scrutinizes Delvey’s narcissistic actions.

The antidote to narcissism is Vivian Kent’s Christian ideals. With her upcoming pregnancy, Kent is unique among crime reporting protagonists. She strives to tell an accurate version of Delvey’s story while also being a competent mother. Throughout the show, Kent stays in a faithful relationship with her husband. He supports her journalistic duties while also comforting her anxieties. Kent empathizes with Delvey’s victims and respects their right to privacy. Kent faces skepticism from Delvey’s lawyer, but stays on good terms with him. Kent is not explicitly Catholic, but she exercises her job with diligence and integrity.

The series provides some admirable qualities, and the actors deliver superb performances. The standout performance is by Julia Garner. She balances Delvey’s confident charisma against her more resentful and unhinged side. The show incorporates “prison bar” style transitions and social media graphics in terms of editing. These visual elements enhance what is an otherwise bland show.

Unfortunately, INVENTING ANNA contains several significant pitfalls. Firstly, the pacing is as slow as molasses. Each episode runs between 60 to 80 minutes. It is a five-episode arc stretched into nine monotonous hours. When it lingers on a flashback, it feels like an eternity. The writing gets preachy with the messages of “oppressed businesswomen” and “male privilege.” The biggest issue is the “vanilla” production value. The camera placement relies on “dolly tracks” and uninteresting angles. The camerawork is competent and utilitarian, but it lacks a strong personality. It often resembles a standard ABC drama more than a top-tier Netflix show.

The show’s biggest hurdle is its objectionable content. The series contains several intimate love scenes. Characters passionately kiss onscreen, gloat to one another, and perform sexual acts in bed (although, nudity is absent). The characters frequently curse. The series also highlights Vivian Kent’s pregnancy, birth, and postpartum symptoms. Kent suffers from back pain, breaks her “water” in the office, and delivers her baby girl onscreen. However, this “birth” scene is portrayed in a quick and non-gory manner.

In conclusion, INVENTING ANNA is not worth anyone’s time. Its dichotomy of hedonistic and Christian ideals might be compelling, but they are not enough to save its bloated runtime. At best, the production values are average, and its “scandalous” sex elements are used as a crutch. Despite its unique maternal protagonist, the show fails to leverage its complex characters. Movieguide® recommends caution for older teenagers and adults due to heavy foul language.