The Tinder Swindler(Netflix Documentary)
Directed by Felicity Morris
I came away under-impressed by Netflix’s much talked-about documentary on the life and crimes of Simon Leviev; an Israeli by birth he conned his way into dozens of women’s hearts and bank balance by pretending to be a diamond tycoon. Since Simon was suave and charming woman fell for him like ninepins(give or takea few pinpricks).
It is easy to say that Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjöholm, and Ayleen Charlotte, the three women who tell their dupe stories are the true ‘heroes’ of the story are true heroes. But I saw nothing heroic in the facile smooth way Simon Leviev dupes them of thousands of dollars by first impressing them with his (imagined) wealth and then pretending to be in a financial crisis , forcing the women to beg borrow and steal…okay I am exaggerating, only borrow, but there is so much melodrama here, it seems like they were willing to fall as hard and low as Sexy Simon wanted them to.
The trio of women are admirable in that they are willing to show themselves as naïve on camera, and in their determination to get back their money at any cost. But the ease with which Liviev cons them is distracting for all the wrong reasons. Why are women reflexively attracted to Bad Boys? Are scamsters more attractive than, say, soldiers or Covid warriors?
What makes Simon Leviev do what he does? Is it just greed? Or a compulsive need to be one-up on the world that he inhabits? How does he sleep peacefully after conning so many women of their debt-begotten money?
The Tinder Swindler has nothing on Simon except simulated voicenotes, actor’s voice recreating his seductive pitch to the women he conned.A large part of the playing time is spent on the WhatsApp screen doing fake versions of what must have really happened between Simon and these women.
By the time the three swindled women—hell hath no fury like women conned—meet up and decide to teach Simon a lesson he’s already warned and fled.So what about the women whom he bled? They are heroes because they spoke up against Simon when they had no choice left. The Tinder Swindler is a dangerous documentary. It shows the conman living a life of luxury on borrowed money. But there is little payoff at the end.
In fact Simon Leviev has gone on Instagram after this film started streaming, proclaiming he will soon tell his side of the story. The story is weighed heavily against the victims. Women who seek partnership on Tinder be warned: there is a Simon Leviev lurking on every swipe.