Saturday, February 12, 2022

REVIEW: 'Inventing Anna' - Anna Has a Profound Impact on the Way Alan Reed Lives His Life in 'A Wolf in Chic Clothing'

Netflix's Inventing Anna - Episode 1.04 "A Wolf in Chic Clothing"

Vivian investigates how Anna persuaded powerful Manhattan lawyer Alan Reed to help her secure millions in funding for her ambitious business venture.

"A Wolf in Chic Clothing" was written by Abby Ajayi and directed by David Frankel

So many grifters exist in this world. At the top of the social hierarchy of the wealthy and privileged, it may all be a scam to ensure others carry the risk instead of threatening their own money. Anna ran in the same social circles as people whose stories ultimately became infamous. She is now living with Billy McFarland, the founder of the Fyre Festival. She dismisses and belittles his idea every step of the way. She only interacts with him because it's convenient to stay with people also trying to cheat and scam their way into a revolution. Again, everyone props up the idea that they are special and deserving of success. It's baffling to Vivian and the other writers. It doesn't make any sense to them as to how these people avoided consequences for as long as they did. They shouldn't be that surprised though. The world is full of stories of people failing upward. It doesn't take Anna pointing that out as unfair treatment for her in order to get that point across. It's blunt when President Donald Trump is on the screen delivering a State of the Union address. Vivian and Jack view themselves as having the sensible reactions. And yet, they have no idea about how this world of the influential works. It would be easy for them to assume that Alan Reed was having an affair with Anna. That would explain how he signed off on her as a client and worthy of banks investing millions of dollars into her foundation. That's not what happened though. The audience is given the benefit of seeing the impact Anna had on Alan's life. It was a tale of him being revitalized through interacting with her. She provided an insight that was refreshing. She opened his eyes to a new world. She broke him out of the monotony of his life. He had to deem her worthy and impressive in order to give over that sense of control. Again, she knows exactly how to worm her way into the hearts and minds of so many people. It's Alan's job to handle this money responsibly and only represent people who can seriously deliver everything they claim. Anna never had the money to pay any of her bills. People kept giving her more and more money and success. It's insane to think about. But again, that sheer bafflement presents as the only note the storytelling aspires for in this depiction. It has to be more than that.

The biggest consequence for Alan is him no longer being treated as a VIP at the club where he plays racquetball. That's personally humiliating for him. It's disruptive to his life. He is blindsided by Vivian's news that the man he was talking to in Germany about Anna's trust fund never actually existed. It was all Anna using a voice modifier. He was foolish and deserving of punishment. That didn't happen. Instead, Anna is the one in jail. That is the place where she should be as well. She has evaded consequences for far too long. This episode does strive to increase the stakes of her crimes. She is no longer stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars. She is trying to secure loans for millions of dollars based on false and misleading information. That's huge. Again, the story is starting to match the magnitude Vivian was convinced was always present. That doesn't immediately justify her fierce and steadfast determination at the start of the series. Moreover, the show continues to treat her as a prop to deliver these details while continuously being confused. She has allies who can dig up useful details. But again, the writers and even Todd are plot constructs meant to supply information. Personal details can certainly be useful from time to time. It's a struggle for Vivian to report this story while pregnant. It's becoming more of a complication for her. That just makes her behave slightly differently around people. It's a quirk might to display personality and specificity. It's mostly just a one-note joke the show employs to break up the audacity of Anna's story. That can be a useful tool from time to time. And yet, it creates such an empty void at the center of this narrative. Vivian has her opinions. She is desperate to get to the truth. But her existence is a formula to deliver the story instead of allowing the story itself to shine along the way. That creates a reality in which none of the details have the necessary depth to suggest true ambiguity and complexity throughout the whole situation. That fatal flaw was present from the very beginning. It's still true now even after the hours spent with these characters already.