Wednesday, March 22

‘The Tinder scammer’: a Netflix documentary disguised as a thriller about how identities are blurred on social networks

“Serial dater” (an untranslatable game between date -quote- and serial killer -serial killer-) is the label that some of the victims of the scammer who focuses attention in this magnetic Netflix documentary. Disguised as a thriller (although, like the best suspense films, it begins dressed in another genre, in this case as a soft romantic drama), ‘The Tinder scammer’ it is full of twists, suspense, secret identities and bitter moments. Above all, because they are real.

With an undoubted taste for conveying the narrative through cliffhangers and twists, this documentary recounts, in the victims’ own words, how several women meet through Tinder someone who calls himself Simon Leviev. He is heir to a fortune in a diamond business and takes them, on their first dates, to dinner at a five-star hotel. They all bite and get carried away by a life of luxury and fantasy. Only it’s all fake.

Or not so fake. It’s just that the money isn’t Simon’s. Soon we will get to know other women and the peculiar network of lies that Simon has set up to swindle them. as soon as he gains their trust, and that begins to fall apart when a group of journalists begin to follow his footsteps. Everything is told to us with an abundance of audiovisual material, without a doubt the great attraction of the film, since the victims have saved videos, conversations and voice messages with which Simon cajoled them.

Behind ‘The Tinder scammer’ is Felicity Morris, also responsible for another successful Netflix documentary with the internet as a backdrop: ‘Don’t touch cats’. On this occasion the interest of the spectator is a little lower than that: the subject is less extravagant and female leads lack the point of weirdness that kitty killer hunters had what we saw there. Here they are only girls with whom you can empathize for their role as victims, but who can become a bit burdensome in their vision without irony of the virtues of a life of frivolous luxury.

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This connection with ‘Do not touch cats’ is what reveals the real theme behind ‘The Tinder scammer’: the diffuseness of authentic personalities in online times. The documentary does an excellent job of portraying, without preaching, a life that is believable to us because we see it in mobile videos, in doctored photos and in poses on social networks. It is all that is needed to build an identity.

As in his previous production, Morris is not launching an anti-tech diatribe at us. Quite the contrary: describes how we users of this technology have ended up believing everything we see on a screen, and ‘The Tinder scammer’ perfectly reflects what consequences that naivety can have. The fast-paced pace and sympathetic look at the victims is just a layer of kindness for what is actually a pretty harsh message about our new ways.

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Although there are undoubtedly hard moments in the documentary for any viewer who has a minimum of empathy, ‘The Tinder scammer’, like ‘Don’t even touch the cats’, maintains a light tone for practically all of its footage. It is not only the story of some scammed women, but how those women manage to emerge victorious of the situation. The third of them, the last chronologically to fall into Simon’s clutches, carries out a revenge that is as childish as it is satisfying for the viewer.

‘The Tinder scammer’ It is a perfect documentary as a reflection on liquid identities in the times of the internet. As one of the victims says between the lines, Simon is everything he is because he shows it on the internet, and without that he is nothing. The real question, which the film fails to answer, is: does that really matter when our lives are 24/7 online?