Friday, February 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'Inventing Anna' - Anna Insists Her Personality Has Been Stable and Didn't Come From Anywhere in 'The Devil Wore Anna'

Netflix's Inventing Anna - Episode 1.02 "The Devil Wore Anna"

From a yacht off Ibiza to a suite at Paris Fashion Week, Anna's glamorous lifestyle comes into focus as her former friends dish out details to Vivian.

"The Devil Wore Anna" was written by Matt Byrne and directed by Tom Verica

Anna has always been who she is. It serves no purpose to dig into her backstory to understand what formed her. It's better to stay in the present. No insight will be found in the past. That can be a difficult place to position a character in a series though. It suggests no evolution. It's an arc that the audience can't easily define and feel compelled to see adapt across time. And yet, the premiere revealed that every former associate of Anna's had a different understanding of who she was. Vivian now has to determine the kind of person she is as she perceives this story as being able to revitalize her career. She is walking into a world of the insanely rich and powerful. It's unnerving. Her quality of life improves simply by being able to spend some time in it. It's a world full of opportunities that have never been within reach for Vivian or anyone she personally knows. It's isolating. People luxuriate within that privilege. It can be alienating to think of them struggling outside of those expectations. That presents as too easy of a character understanding though. Anna isn't just the naive young woman living off of her trust fund. People certainly perceive her as such. Some see her hustle to impress those who can provide for her to live a comfortable, extravagant life. Others are lured in by the understanding that she doesn't seek or need their approval. She knows how to walk in this world. And so, she comfortably has access to all of the privileges made available to those with enough money to pay for it. She knows exactly how to manipulate others no matter what the situation. Of course, it depends on her having a personal relationship with them. She can't simply argue with the hotel staff about not being able to pay for her room. She can manipulate Val though. She does that by breaking down. It's haunting and eerie. It produces compassion. She isn't the one humiliated into begging Chase for help. Instead, it's others doing the dirty work on her behalf. They believe in the fantasy of what she has created. That shifts for whomever she interacts with. Again, that can be difficult to understand and get a strong hold on. And yet, the aspiration of it all can be deeply felt at times.

Everything is fundamentally about Anna. The storytelling actually works when the focus is on trying to understand her life. Whenever it shifts back to Vivian and how she processes these foreign concepts, it falters. Something powerful can be said about the people who shape stories. Journalism is a necessary profession. One that holds people accountable and exposes the truth. Vivian sees the importance of the job. She just continues to come across as delusional for buying into her own grandiosity. Some people need that unflappable confidence in order to achieve greatness. It's faking it until they make it. It's similar to Anna's strategy in life as well. But again, doubts are allowed to creep in about what she actually wants. The narrative suggests one thing. And then, it shifts. It's all about maintaining power and control. Her identity is threatened. That means she has to manipulate Chase in order to stay on top of things. It's what she needs to do to survive. Val can easily be tossed aside. Even afterwards, he still cares about Anna. That hold is still present. Neff feels that pull as well. Rachel and Kacy certainly don't. They know they have been conned and don't what to be confronted with the hard truth. Neff isn't given that hard slap of reality though. She makes it to Rikers. She doesn't actually meet with Anna. Instead, it all comes back to Vivian needing answers to better understand Anna's story. It's complex. Anna sees value in people who work for her. She doesn't have to like them. She just needs to see a purpose from them. Once that sense is gone, she is fine leaving them behind. For some, it's a blessing. That's the lesson at the end of Talia's story. It should just leave everyone concerned about those currently caught up in her web. That includes Vivian who demands the greatest story of her career and Todd who needs every piece of evidence the prosecution has even though he clearly doesn't have the ability to mine through it. They are entrenched in this story now. They can't escape from it despite any pulls elsewhere in their lives that may pop up.