The Tinder Swindler Documentary Film Review & Summary

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Video Source – Netflix (Netflix YouTube Channel)

The Tinder Swindler is a British true crime documentary film directed by Felicity Morris and released on Netflix on 2 February 2022.

The Tinder Swindler Cast

  • Simon Leviev as Self
  • Cecilie Fjellhøy as Self
  • Kristoffer Kumar as Self
  • Pernilla Sjöholm as Self

The Tinder Swindler Plot

The Tinder Swindler takes a swipe at the modern-day dating culture. Told from the perspective of three different women, The Tinder Swindler is their account of encountering a man called Simon Leviev through Tinder who lured them into varying degrees of friendship to eventually rob them of their money.

The Tinder Swindler Review

The Tinder Swindler Review

There are many undeniable realities of the 21st century; online dating remains one of the many. The distance between loneliness and true love is covered by the time taken to make the correct choice between swiping left or right. Yes, dating has come a long way from “love at first sight” to “love at first swipe.” This British documentary film digs out the skeletons of the new age dating game through a story of manipulation, love, and fraud. Yes, The Tinder Swindler is every old-school romantic’s worst nightmare come true. 

Three among the many- Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjoholm, and Ayleen Charlotte share their experiences of encountering Simon Leviev on Tinder who claims to be the son of the Russian-Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev. This charming and extravagant man lures his victims through lavish dates, expensive vacations, and generous romantic gestures. After winning the trust of the women, he starts exploiting them- emotionally first, financially later.

As loans and credit payments pile up for the women and they start demanding their money back, he starts making excuses, providing fake evidence of payments made to the victims, and in the worst-case scenario, warning them of “consequences.” The swindler carries on with his lavish lifestyle by shifting his attention to the next victim. The women realize they have been frauded on the pretext of love and try to get back on The Tinder Swindler.

What’s it like meeting the Prince Charming of your dreams?

“What happened to me felt like a movie,” says Cecilie just moments before she goes about painting pictures about her idea of love. Lucky for Cecilie, she finally has her own movie but not the kind she would have preferred. For Cecilie who loves Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, it must have been exciting to meet her beast, but the beast in her case turns out to be one who runs off with her money rather than turning into a handsome prince charming. From the first moment, the women get to tell their story with utmost honesty and cheeky romanticism, and the feeling is rarely there that they are compelled to create a narrative to give direction to the film. The resilience becomes unmatched when the victim-blaming, the women received after the case went public, is addressed.

Told from the perspective of women who got conned at the hands of the swindler, the film never loses the plot. The film constantly empathizes with the victims and rarely idolizes the conman. The goal is redemption from the beginning. The title may mislead the viewer to think that this film is about the eye-catching and high-flying swindler who duped women out to find true love on the internet. The Tinder Swindler is far less about the swindler than it’s about those who he swindled. In its almost 2-hour long run time, the focus is seldom turned away from the women who trusted and lost. Felicity Morris finds affection for the women and puts it on a simmer to boil. The anticipation is created for it to boil over and redemption to be found. And it is found undoubtedly but underwhelmingly. The documentary film takes the ride upside for the majority of the length but only to fall flat at the end of it. Still, in its underwhelming ending by virtue of the dissatisfying reality it captures, the film exposes the flaws of the system exploited by people who look for loopholes and the perils people face at the hands of such swindlers in the online dating world. 

Between social media posts, screenshots, private videos and pictures sent by Simon, clippings of news articles, and clips of phone conversations, ample evidence is provided to cement the story put forth by the women, adding layers of voyeurism. Glimpses of shifting landscapes of cities around the world and Simon’s lavish lifestyle that he employs with precision to lure victims adds to the otherwise dull imagery of the digital evidence that fills up the length of the film. 

Igniting Questions and Questioning Morality

Compared to the many Netflix true-crime documentaries that grab eye-balls occasionally, The Tinder Swindler stands apart as it does not delve into the life and experience of the one who commits the crime. It’s hard to get absolutely shocked at the nature of the act or the way it is committed.

The Tinder Swindler never blinks away from the hard-hitting impact on lives that chance encounters on the internet can have. This documentary film does little for the online dating culture and lesser for the system which cares less for such crimes that exploit the misplaced trust.

Nonetheless, The Tinder Swindler is an honest attempt to help those, who suffered, to be heard, even at the risk of allowing them to be judged and to be taken through online social media trials. Undoubtedly, the film will ignite questions around the morality of all parties involved and conversations around the illusion that is easily constructed to attract the eyes of anybody willing to look at it. In the end, the perception with which the film is received will also evoke the morality of the viewer in question. 

The Movie Culture Synopsis

The Tinder Swindler at its best is a true-crime documentary with the nuance of a dreamy fairy tale. And doubt not, it starts like a fairy tale but by the end, it’s easy to realize that the love stories which are sowed on the virtual landscapes of the internet rarely bloom into fairy tales without the risks we are warned of by documentaries like this one time and again.

What becomes a fun ordeal to watch from a distance and be amazed at the naivety of those who fall for the gimmicks of conman, is taken and provided with a face and a voice. A matter of trivial curiosity that will be laughed at and ignored later by the unaffected is brought out as the tragedy it becomes for those who are affected.

The Tinder Swindler places its heart at the right place in the story of some tenacious women who paid a hefty price for making the swipe in the wrong direction. But then again, what’s the real price of love after all! The Tinder Swindler manages to be a brief reminder as well as a lesson straight from the modern-day dating guide.

Author

  • Shreejit is an aspiring writer and a journalism student. He loves philosophizing books and cinema. Coming to movies, horror and tragic romances take the cake for him. Thrillers excite him too but nothing beats a tearjerker tragedy of Shakespearean proportions on a gloomy Monday night.