Just as the brilliant Couples Therapy gives you the chance to revel in (and learn from!) the romantic travails of modern couples, this documentary from Netflix takes you on the emotional rollercoaster of three women taken in by a charming swindler on the dating app Tinder. In an age where young people are more likely to meet someone via an app than in person, the initial rush of having ‘struck gold’ is clear from the accounts of several love-hoax survivors. But just as precipitous is the fall when they realise that this seemingly glamourous, attentive lover turns out to have dark secrets and then takes an obsessive turn when they try to escape his clutches.
The jaw-dropping gall and ingenuity of the Tinder Swindler recall that of the hoaxer in the genre-creating Catfish. Bemused by his stylish attire and poise, one of the Tinder Swindler’s victims swiped right, and was soon being dined at a five-star hotel, and then whisked off on holiday in a private jet, before being invited to move in with him. ‘He’ being “Simon Leviev”; or rather, convicted conman Shimon Hayut. But before she knew it he was texting her images of himself and his bodyguard beaten and bloodied, facing threats from quarters unspecified, and without access to his millions. Another victim is more practised at Tinder, or so she thinks, and spends a whirlwind summer of European partying at his expense, “as a friend”, before the same frame lands on her with a crash.
The Independent quoted Hayut protesting his innocence: ““If I was a fraud why would I act on Netflix I mean they should have arrested me when we were still shooting.” And their reviewer Ed Cumming finds the contentious human drama at the centre of the film “a great yarn”, if “half an hour too long”. Over on Indiewire, Jude Dry compares the film to other entrants in the assumed identity genre, including The Inventor, about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, or Inventing Anna, the new Netflix feature on faux-New York socialite Anna Delvey. Like the Indy, The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson awards the film four stars. “When the moving parts of Simon’s schemes come into focus, the scale of them is truly amazing… This gets to the heart of the horrifying emotional and financial damage these women endured and sustained.”
First shown January 2022.