The true crime behind this documentary is shocking, heartbreaking, and aggravating all at once -- in other words, great material.
The Tinder Swindler director Felicity Morris has compiled the evidence in a way that captures and holds your attention and builds suspense, especially as the con man's scheme starts crumbling in the second half of the movie. In this engrossing unraveling, the victims take matters into their own hands, putting themselves at potential risk and involving an investigative journalistic team.
That's not to say the film is perfect in its blend of interviews (why is the lighting so dark on the two main interviewees?), classic film footage (used at the start then dropped), attractive B-roll of key cities, posted pictures and videos, omnipresent mood-setting music, and a few too many screen shots of Google searches, Tinder scrolling, and WhatsApp messages.
But, much like the film's poster suggests the swindler did to the women, this story hooks you. It also seems to carry a warning for our modern virtual lives. As one woman puts it, "One little swipe can change your life forever."
Yet the moral might also be: "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." And also: Don't blame the victim. When an expose of the swindler is posted online on a Norwegian news site, the women who came forward to tell their stories to help capture the perpetrator suffer the backlash of commentary blaming them for being gullible or, worse, gold-digging.
There is certainly an intention here to uncover insights into what women are looking for in a relationship or from a man. One of the women describes forming her ideas of love from Disney films. She also later admits she's still on Tinder even after the swindler took her for loads of money and led her to thoughts of suicide. That admission comes in an epilogue which provides closure for viewers -- but not as much for the people involved as one might hope.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.