Legal Loopholes & Loopy Lunatics
Lords of Scam is the latest documentary movie on Netflix, diving in to a pretty unique case involving a group of EU scammers. Across the 1 hour 45 minute run-time, this film looks at the men behind a scheme that conned the carbon quota system. In doing so, these scammers managed to lay their hands on millions, thanks to a loophole with VAT. But boy does this film takes its sweet time to get to the good stuff.
Not content with just telling a consistent story, Lords of Scam has a weird fly on the wall approach to its storytelling, following these different men (most notably the notorious Marco Mouly) as they go about their days. From driving fast cars to engaging in heated conversations, these unnecessarily slow the pace down and at their worst, are boring to watch. When the film actually focuses on the crux of the issue, it’s far more enjoyable.
During this slow opener, we’re introduced to other key players in this operation, including Dominique Ghez “Dodo”, Gregory Zaoui “The Brain”, Arnaud Mimran and Samy Souied. Now, there are other people involved here too, but the latter is particularly important to note given the key role this person has in the story that follows. No spoilers of course, but around the hour mark a big revelation turns this story from simple scamming to something far darker.
While the story itself is interesting, the problem with Lords of Scam comes from its presentation. Too often the film will devolve into fly on the wall footage that’s not really related to the film, focusing on the wacky exploits of Marco and co. The opening 5 minutes essentially sets the tone for the documentary to follow, and it never really settles into a consistent rhythm.
However, the ending does make for a beautifully ambiguous conclusion, leaving massive question marks over exactly who’s telling the truth and who’s telling lies. There is some expository text that follows too, confirming what actually happened to these men, but certain elements – including an unresolved murder case – remain black clouds over the validity of the stories being told here.
For those who enjoy financial documentaries, Lords of Scam is not a bad film but it’s also not as tightly constructed and pacey as it could be. This could very easily be about 20-25 minutes shorter and you really wouldn’t miss much. Despite its slow pace and questionable editing though, there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable watch nonetheless. Just be sure to approach this one with some patience!