When Cecilie Fjellhøy swiped right on Tinder for Simon Leviev, she had no idea it would change her life together. A quick Goggle search indicated that Simon was the son of a diamond mogul and after their first date included being whisked off to Bulgaria for a romantic hotel getaway, Cecilie thought she’d found the one. Over the following months, Cecilie would be conned by Simon, putting her hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Pernilla Sjöholm and Ayleen Charlotte were also among Simon’s victims, and all three here relate their story of how they met the Tinder Swindler, and how he got a taste of his own medicine.
‘The Tinder Swindler’ really effectively lulls the viewer into this apparent story of romance and luxury. Cecilie talks about trying to find love and believing it’s finally happened with Simon as clips from films such as ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, ‘Charade’, and ‘The Yellow Rolls Royce’ play over her dialogue. In Pernilla’s story, there’s more glamour still, as private jets, cool cars and extravagant parties feature frequently – even with their relationship being more platonic. The documentary effectively relates how a dream come true turned into a nightmare, and how easily false appearances can convince.
One doesn’t want to give too much away because a lot of the shock and fascination with ‘The Tinder Swindler’ is watching this incredible story unfold. Suffice to say that with ‘Don’t F* with Cats’ producer-turned-director Felicity Morris and Irish producer Bernie Higgins, you couldn’t have put this story in better hands. It is exquisitely well put together, producing a visceral, emotional response in its viewers, as ‘Don’t F* with Cats’ did before. It’s horrific but also inspiring as we see these women take action, where in many instances, little can be done for such crimes.
Expertly edited and suspenseful, the twists and turns the story takes get ever crazier and more appalling. There’s an intimacy to the narrative and yet it’s able to relate what’s a very globetrotting story too. Aside from the victims, we also get takes from investigators, journalists, and (to a lesser extent, evidently) authorities. You can really feel the terror that was instilled in these women and while there is some redemption, there's no doubt that the viewer is left with a desire for further action. Essential viewing, this is a documentary that has more takeaway lessons than you would think.
'The Tinder Swindler' is streaming now on Netflix.