INVENTING ANNA – Review by Susan Granger

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You may recognize Emmy-winner Julia Garner’s face and distinctively nasal voice from Ozark, but in the nine episodes of Inventing Anna she plays enigmatic grifter Anna Sorokin – a.k.a. Anna Delvey.

For years, brazen Anna passed herself off as the daughter of a German tycoon, gliding through Manhattan’s opulent hotels, restaurants and night clubs, clad in expensive couture. Posing as an heiress, she cleverly befriended socialites, high-fashion designers and moneyed tech moguls.

Told in flashbacks, manipulative, twentysomething Anna’s mysterious story is being investigated by Vivian Kent (Anna Chlumsky), a whiny, very pregnant writer, desperately trying to restore her tarnished journalistic reputation.

Encouraged by older colleagues (Anna Devere Smith, Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry) banished to ‘Scriberia,’ Vivian interviews Anna who’s being held – without bail – on Riker’s Island, pending trial.

To research Anna’s background, Vivian stalks former friends, colleagues and gullible victims – like photo editor (Katie Lowes), banker (Alan Reed), fitness trainer (Laverne Cox) and boutique hotel concierge (Alexis Floyd) – plus Anna’s lawyer (Arian Moayed) and boyfriend (Saamer Usmani).

Wrestling with a bizarre Slavic/Germanic accent, Julia Garner infuses Anna with sneering, haughty impatience and glacial indifference. Confident and calculating, Anna converts every conversation into a scamming transaction. In contrast, Anna Chlumsky’s Vivian is awkwardly annoying.

Produced by prolific Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy), the formulaic, fictionalized series utilizes social media as both a metaphor and narrative device, exploring how influential people use Instagram to hide in plain sight…as the slow-building con stretches on and on and on, repeating the disclaimer: “The whole story is completely true – except for all the parts that are totally made up.

FYI: Jessica Pressler’s How an Aspiring ‘It’ Girl Tricked New York’s Party People – and its Banks was published in New York magazine in May, 2018. Currently Anna remains in ICE’s custody, fighting deportation to Germany. Reportedly, Netflix paid Anna $320,000; in turn, she paid $198,000 in restitution, $24,000 in state taxes and $75,000 in attorney’s fees.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Inventing Anna is a slyly stealthy, swindling 6, streaming on Netflix.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.