NETFLIX Review: Swipe right on the compelling true crime doc, 'The Tinder Swindler'
The perils of online dating are on full display in the compelling new Netflix documentary, "The Tinder Swindler," which very will might become the latest true-crime obsession on the popular streaming platform.
Told mainly from the perspective of two different female victims, the predator in this case is an Israeli man by the name of Simon Leviev, a charismatic son of a diamond tycoon and heir to the empire. After the women and he both "swiped right" (a Tinder term meaning that the profile you're looking at is someone you'd want to match with), he treated them to fancy five-star meals, luxurious travel and the promise of a lifestyle that seems too good to be true.
Well, that's because it all was. The only thing that was real about Simon was that he was indeed a charismatic man...he was not, in fact, a diamond tycoon nor was his name even really Simon. Yet upon meeting him, he seemed like a dream...that fairy tale Prince whom most know is just a fantasy, but one that exists in the back of your mind that you always HOPED could be real...a true "diamond in the rough."
Simon's game was a long-con. He travelled constantly, but led these women along for months and even years, getting his hooks completely in them. Then he would eventually do the same thing to all of his victims: He'd create some sort of "emergency situation" where very bad men mixed up in the diamond trade would be threatening him, and he'd need his "girlfriend" to help him out financially: Send money, open up a credit card, pawn your stuff, take out a loan...whatever it took. This was of course a literal matter of life and death...or so the victims were led to believe.
Without giving too much more away, "The Tinder Swindler" mostly focuses on the two victim's experiences with Simon - for a bit too long perhaps - before it begins revealing how the different threads interconnect. The story goes in some very surprising directions, and first-time filmmaker Felicity Morris does a good job of making the film visually interesting...not a small feat since most of the story took place on each of their phones, with various texts, video and audio recordings. It does eventually pay-off, and the film's "epilogue" - is gasp-inducing.
This movie is produced by Bart Layton, who himself directed one of the greatest true-crime documentaries of the past decade - maybe ever - with his 2012 film "The Imposter" (Layton also directed the non-documentary film, "American Animals," which was my #1 favorite film of 2018). His involvement alone should be a stamp of approval on whether or not it is worth your time to check out.
Tinder is not the culprit here, but just a tool that can be used by some very bad people to do some horrendous things. The man known as "The Tinder Swindler" may make you think twice about swiping right, but if you're into compelling true-crime, then this film is definitely a match.
Run Time: 1 hour 54 minutes.
Directed by Felicity Morris (feature-film directorial debut).
"The Tinder Swindler" is streaming on Netflix on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022.
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