Netflix: “Inventing Anna” starring Julia Garner
Everybody’s got an angle in New York City. That’s how you survive and eventually succeed in 212.
Quite often, such success is a matter of reinventing yourself. You could, for example, hail from Russia, move to small-town Germany after the fall of the Soviet Union, get fashion-magazine internships in London and Paris—then make your way to New York where you can pass yourself off as a German heiress.
By now, many of you may recognize the topic of discussion here is Anna Delvey (nee Anna Sorokin) who did all of the above between 2013 and 2017, and went on to defraud bankers, real-estate moguls, tech billionaires, and other New York glitterati—through the sheer force of her personality and her genius at reinventing herself.
Anna is the subject of Netflix’s intriguing series “Inventing Anna”—which at the beginning of every episode proudly announces that “This story is entirely true. Except for the parts that are made up.” If you get the joke, you’ll love the rest of the show from the get-go.
The narcissistic, chilly Anna, who epitomizes the millennial-you-love-to-hate, could be played by only the brilliant Julia Garner who was so wonderful as the bad-seed evil-incarnate Ruth in “Ozark.” She makes the devil-wears-Prada lady seem like Mother Goose by comparison.
The great mystery of “Inventing Anna,” in this writer’s humble opinion, is how Anna could have hoodwinked so many of New York’s elite. She was not “hot” in the conventional sense nor was she particularly nice.
The reason, as the show clearly makes the case, is that these normally intelligent and worldly New Yorkers WANTED to believe her, because in doing so, it
made them feel even more important than they already were.
The show is structured such that we are following Vivian (Anna Chlumsky), a disgraced journalist for “Manhattan” magazine (aka New York Magazine) who is attempting a comeback by writing an article about Anna’s swindles and her victims. Through flashbacks of her interviews with these victims, we meet a young fashion designer she conned (James Cusati-Moyer); a studly techy boyfriend (Saamer Usmani) she swindled; a personal trainer (Laverne Cox) she flimflammed; a friend (Katie Lowes) who was thereupon stuck with a $62,000 credit card bill from their stay at La Mamounia in Marrakech; and a New York concierge (the excellent Alexis Floyd) whose favor Anna curried with $100 bills.
Other cast members who deserve special recognition include Arian Moyad as her scrappy lawyer; the wonderful Anna Deveare Smith as Vivian’s journalist co-worker; and Anthony Edwards, almost unrecognizable as a white-shoe lawyer whom she conned.
Besides reveling in the cast, one of the guilty pleasures of “Inventing Anna” is identifying the various restaurants and office buildings around town that are featured in the show. As well as hearing the names of the movers-and-shakers of New York society who were so effortlessly deceived by Anna.
To find out Anna’s fate, you’ll have to google “Anna Delvey trial” because you will find no spoilers here. But it can be revealed that Anna’s victims, as well as Anna herself, are continuing to profit off this episode. Which just shows to go you, everybody’s got an angle in New York. Some are just better at working it than others.