Friday, February 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'Inventing Anna' - Vivian Kent Has Big Hopes From Reporting Out the Crimes of Anna Delvey in 'Life of a VIP'

Netflix's Inventing Anna - Episode 1.01 "Life of a VIP"

Reporter Vivian Kent defies her editor to pursue the story of Anna Delvey, an alleged German heiress indicted for grand larceny and jailed without bail.

"Life of a VIP" was written by Shonda Rhimes and directed by David Frankel

Vivian Kent wants to revitalize her career and Anna Sorokin (aka Anna Delvey) wants to be famous. Those are the details that drive these characters at the center of this story. Vivian walks into her newsroom determined to write a story about the German heiress who has just been indicted on multiple counts of grand larceny. She views it as a story of a young woman getting connected with the most powerful financial institutions in the country. In order to do so, she must have some impeccable charm and skills. She can't simply be the dumb socialite who foolishly broke the law. Vivian does her best to cultivate this story and prove to the world around her that it is worth telling. She has to do so for herself and her career. That's the most important thing to her even though she is also pregnant with her first child. She also has to convince Anna that it's worthwhile for her to fight these charges. She shouldn't take the plea deal. That path would offer certainty. She would know exactly what life awaits her. This show aspires to be a story that offers no easy explanations. Vivian and Anna are both trying to take advantage of each other to advance their own interests. That's abundantly clear with both of their stories. It's a tale about the power of perception. People were fooled by Anna. Her actions led to criminal charges being brought against her. She is being held with no bail. People are keeping their secrets close and refusing to let Vivian in on any of the truth. This story is blowing up. Vivian wants that to happen. She stakes her entire career on the power of this story. It has real weight to it. She doesn't want to be forced into covering Me Too stories on Wall Street against the wishes of those in that environment. She believes it's exploitative and not chasing genuine convictions that can reveal new facets in the world. Of course, those stories still need to be told. It must come from cultivating relationships with those willing to come forward. Meanwhile, Vivian struggles to convince Anna to sit for an official interview.

Everyone wants to take their cues from Anna. Vivian wants to earn her trust. She ultimately has to be assertive with her demands and play into the rules that Anna has long exploited. That includes giving into the VIP experience that treats everything in Rikers with much more glamour. It becomes a special and unique experience. It's no longer the slog of bureaucracy that disrupts the day of those trying to keep these human connections alive. Anna's life is much more valuable than that. Vivian can see that. Anna is teasing her along. She is reluctant to share any personal details. She proclaims her innocence. Even that can be seen as her playing to the story she believes is warranted for the situation. Vivian wants to dig deeper. She can unravel the truth if she is simply committed enough. Of course, she has to take a moment to realize the gravity of her life at the moment. She can't simply ignore her pregnancy and how that will change her life. She has to take that into consideration with her actions. Her career is important. It is a priority for her. She is determined to prove herself after a previous mishap. It's a public failure. One that puts her in the orbit of seasoned writers willing to aide and lift her up. That can make all of this seem like a standard, one-note investigation into the mystery of one person's life. It doesn't present as an original story that took creative thinking to report the facts. Instead, Vivian goes through Anna's Instagram page. Even then, she comes across revelations that disprove what she was previously led to belief. Neff was a personal friend of Anna's. She also has no time for Vivian trying to make this story an indictment of systemic issues throughout the world at large. That shows Vivian as someone wanting to write with the epic scope in mind instead of following the details no matter how small they are or where they may lead. That seems like a fatal flaw that should make the audience question her instincts. She deems it necessary to be a reporter. The audience has to go along with that assessment despite how basic everything has to seemingly be perceived as to convey the larger points. That simply means the show operates without trusting in the audience's intelligence. Yes, some themes play towards profound concepts that don't have any easy answers or solutions. People were tricked by Anna despite the outrageousness conjured by her accent and demand for only the best at all times. This story feels required to start from a basic place. It should reveal layers that showcase the breadth of the life Anna lived. That end result is telegraphed to the point where the fixation sets everyone's expectations out of wack.