Oho, from a safe distance, don’t like a hustler? Especially if the scam is large scale and the brands far outweigh themselves? Come on, Anna Delvey – née Anna Sorokin, though that never bothered her too much. The apparent German heiress turned a sharp wit, a good wardrobe and an unspecific Mittel-European accent into an entry into New York high society. She racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars from the elite who were fooled by her composure, impressed by her connections and unable to imagine that anyone who knew what wine to order couldn’t be all she claimed to be.
Sorokin was charged with various counts of theft and other crimes and, in April 2019, convicted of eight of them. But what a wild ride she’s had, and this new Netflix dramatization of her story takes advantage of that at the last minute. Inventing Anna hails from the stable of Shonda Rhimes and stays within the comfort zone of Shondaland (her production company) – a brilliantly told, paced and joyfully layered story. It may carry more weight than it first appears, but it’s played essentially like a modern soap opera – and god, it’s fun. It’s a sight for those primarily looking to marvel – at the brashness, the style, the steely nerves of the twenties weaving webs from inside a house of cards built on ice. slim. Those looking for an in-depth, analytical look at the Delvey phenomenon, his pathology, or his motivations—which the handful of previous documentaries about him lacked—will have to wait a little longer.
“This whole thing that you’re about to sit on your fat ass and watch, like a big piece of nothing, is about me. Do you know me. Everyone knows me. I am an icon. A legend.” So, in the opening seconds of Inventing Anna, we meet our anti-heroine in all her icy, brutal, contemptuous, and irresistible glory. Who doesn’t want to immediately follow that ravenous, barely contained ego and see where does it succeed?
Julia Garner is fascinating as Anna. She keeps it human enough that – like her grades, perhaps – we never lose interest or emotional investment in her, even as we watch her embark on another round of lucid crime as she works. in pieces, finds the next pawn in his game, takes the next step in his con. If indeed, con is the right word. For her, it just seems like a way of being — it feels like, like a shark that stops swimming, if she didn’t live a life of stolen luxury, she would die. Garner’s Anna is a kaleidoscopic mix of fury and defensiveness (when challenged or crossed), sweetness, charm, fierce intelligence and, at times, simple, ineffable weirdness – and you can’t leave her. eyes.
Equally good, in an understandably less showy role, is Anna Chlumsky as journalist Vivian Kent. (She’s based on writer Jessica Pressler, whose article about Delvey in New York magazine after her arrest brought Anna to the world’s attention, much to the chagrin of defrauded banks, art collectors, gallery owners , fashionistas and socialites who wanted their embarrassing gullibility swept under the rug.) We back and forth between Kent’s interviews with Anna in prison (“Why do you dress like that?” Anna asks with a characteristic mixture of contempt and worry. “You look poor”), its investigations, and scenes that show how Anna got from there (a working-class town outside of Moscow) to here (Rikers Island prison, via London, Paris and New York). Boyfriends in love, hoteliers and business women who use her as a maid and do not verify their statements lead to more and more fraud. Until, that is, small gifts lead to bigger suspicions, betrayed friends amass grievances that need to be aired, and finally the queen of tricksters is unmasked and imprisoned. You cannot, in spite of yourself, prevent yourself from wishing it were otherwise.