Are you swiping right on a beauty or a beast?
If something is too good to be true, the chances are it is. When it comes to love, there is no such thing as the perfect relationship. And when it comes to online dating, that idea of finding perfect love – or at least a decent match – is akin to finding a needle in a haystack.
Tinder has been around since 2012 and as anyone who’s used the app will tell you – it’s brutal. With so many people vying for attention, and a lot of men just hopelessly swiping right on every female in the hopes of matching, even making a match doesn’t guarantee a happy outcome.
You have one chance to message that prospective partner and if that fails, you’re back to square one. So the chances of finding a billionaire, no less a billionaire that wants to take the time to wine and dine you, is pretty slim.
For those unaware of how the app work, Tinder is essentially the online equivalent of speed dating. After setting up a profile, you’re given a whole series of prospective matches in your area (or a specified radius.) If you swipe left it means you’re not interested and the next picture pops up. If you swipe right, then that’s essentially one half of a tick and you continue on.
If that same person then swipes right to your picture too, you’re matched up and you’re able to message one another. Of course, your first impression is always going to be the picture you choose and with so many good looking guys and gals using the app, anyone who’s average looking or below is likely to come up short.
So that brings us along nicely to The Tinder Swindler. As one may expect, the movie basically revolves around a con-artist using the platform as a means of conning millions of dollars from hopeless romantics. Posing as an Israeli billionaire, Simon Leviev managed to woo many people but two women in particular are that of Cecilie and Pernilla.
The first half of the film essentially revolves around the con itself, how Simon managed to convince them both to take out exorbitant loans, credit cards and more in order to fund his lifestyle, disguised under various different excuses including being the target of gangsters (complete with a regurgitated video of his bodyguard bloodied and in the back of an ambulance.)
It’s difficult to go into this one and not incredulously shake your head at the naivety of these women but at the same time, it speaks volumes about the sad state of society as a whole. As we continue to descend down this digitalized path, everyone is desperate for affection, to find that one true love.
Seeing pictures of your friends and family, all smiling and happy with their partners is bound to arouse feelings of loneliness for those longing for the same, while sadly wearing the brand of being single. Worse still, social media doesn’t let you see the bad parts of these relationships, thus reinforcing the desperation in finding “the one.”
The Tinder Swindler essentially plays out as a cautionary tale, which makes the second half all the more satisfying when these two women decide to fight back and try to catch Simon at his own game. In that respect, there are echoes of Don’t F**k with Cats, but the distinct lack of authority from the police or experts in fraud cases to lend their voices to what’s happening feels like a missed opportunity.
There is one moment late on where a Ponzi scheme is mentioned but it’s quickly brushed over with little explanation beyond it being the “perfect con” and lightly explaining how money from one woman is used to impress the next. The Ponzi Scheme requires a constant flow of new money to survive, which directly ties into Simon’s desperation. Even just seeing a diagram or some sort of chart to visually explain this would have helped flesh out and understand this man’s motives and how quickly he went from playboy billionaire to the self-proclaimed “King of the Homeless.”
Most of the documentary mixes in these talking head interviews with stock footage of text messages, videos and audio recordings, all jumbled together alongside a couple of establishing shots as we jet across the world. One particularly impressive moment of Prague perfectly captures the beauty of this European city. And I am absolutely not biased on that fact since it’s my favourite place to go in Europe!
The Tinder Swindler is an enthralling and gripping documentary, one that will have you shocked and shaking your head in disbelief. It would be easy to come out of this and scoff at those poor gullible victims but equally, it’s hard not to empathize with these women.
Conned out of millions and with Simon still on the loose as we speak, The Tinder Swindler is a cautionary tale and a reminder that sometimes, if you try to live out a fairytale like Beauty and the Beast, you won’t end with a charming Prince, you’ll get the gnarly rage of the Beast.
Verdict - 7.5/10