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'Inventing Anna': Netflix conwoman saga from 'Bridgerton' producer divides critics

Julia Garner stars in 'Inventing Anna'. (Netflix)
Julia Garner stars in 'Inventing Anna'. (Netflix)

Inventing Anna, the new Netflix docu-drama from Bridgerton producer Shonda Rhimes, launches today to a mixed bag of reviews that veer from two to four stars.

Starring Ozark's Julia Garner as its central character, it tells the true story of Anna Sorokin, a conwoman who posed as wealthy German heiress Anna Delvey and managed to scam New York high society out of thousands of dollars before being caught out and jailed in 2019.

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The tale is based on journalist Jessica Pressler's article on Delvey after meeting her for a series of interviews from prison about her crimes, and reimagines Pressler as the fictional character Vivian Kent played by Anna Chlumsky.

The con artist posed as a wealthy German heiress. (Netflix)
The con artist posed as a wealthy German heiress. (Netflix)

But critics have been unable to agree on whether Inventing Anna, from Grey's Anatomy and Scandal creator and How To Get Away With Murder producer Rhimes, is brilliant or boring.

The Guardian gave the series four stars, praising it with: "It may have more heft than it initially appears, but it is played essentially as a modern soap opera – and God, is it fun."

Lead actor Garner also drew compliments in the review: "Julia Garner is mesmerising as Anna...you can’t take your eyes off her."

Meanwhile, a BBC review also awarded it four stars, but noted: "It takes the show a while to warm up: the initial two or three episodes are, frankly, a slog...But hang on in there, because midway through it hits its stride, finding both focus and heart."

However, The Telegraph was damning of the drama, giving it just two stars and writing: "There is a brilliant drama to be had from the story of Anna Delvey, and when someone makes one I’ll be sure to let you know. In the meantime we have Inventing Anna, which takes this fascinating story of a con artist who scammed Manhattan society and breezes through it with all the depth of an Emily in Paris episode."

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Most critics agreed that the one stand-out element of the show was Garner, best known for her role as Ruth in Netflix series Ozark.

The Independent praised Garner but added: "But the result falls flat. Inventing Anna is a stretched-out nine-episode romp that never quite catches the enigma of its protagonist – or matches her appeal."

Anna Chlumsky plays a journalist writing about Anna Delvey. (Netflix)
Anna Chlumsky plays a journalist writing about Anna Delvey. (Netflix)

A Variety review offered: "Even as the show around her stutters, Garner leans into her role with a vulpine, barely there grin that proves irresistible."

It continued: "With so much material and such a tantalizing central character to work with, it’s understandable that Inventing Anna would try to balance as many spinning plates as possible. It’s just disappointing, if inevitable, that it drops as many as it does given all the talent, runtime and money it had to work with."

Inventing Anna is currently streaming on Netflix.

Watch: Anna Chlumsky talks Inventing Anna