Searing lies and a serial dater

The victims of notorious Tinder Swindler, Shimon Hayut, have made an appearance on Netflix.


Lauren Ritz

Finding his victims on the online dating app, the Tinder Swindler was able to extort millions.

Valentine’s Day: chocolates, roses, 80s love ballads, and exorbitant spending on those one cares for most. For some, however, the holiday has turned as sour as stale candy. This was the case for Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjoholm, and Ayleen Charlotte who contributed to the nearly $10 million collected by real-life antagonist and titular Tinder swindler Shimon Hayut. Despite its compelling story, the eponymously named documentary dropped the ball Time After Time, reducing a cinematic power cord into nothing more than a Careless Whisper.

Starting off strong, the Netflix original hones in on Fjellhøy’s story, focusing on an empathetic telling of the victim’s mistakes. Raw emotions and the somber backdrop add to this, setting a realistic tone for the rest of the run-time. However, as more perspectives are introduced and the lies pile up, the film starts to drag. After all, Hayut wasn’t the most creative in his schemes, making a redundant, sleep-inducing mess out of most of the special. The endings to each story offer redemption in this regard, but not enough to save the project as a whole.

Expanding on the successes of the program, producers show respect for their  featured guests; they take a clear, supportive stance on the issue and paint the targeted parties in a sympathetic light without ridicule. Additionally, the documentary’s use of text reenactments to progress the plot was distinguishing. The third act was also commendable. It’s investigative focus tied each speaker together, spoiling audiences with a satisfying union that proves The Power of Love

Unfortunately, the majority of the film was overwhelmingly mediocre, leaving viewers All Out of Love. This was partly due to the sporadic jumps between narratives that made it difficult to connect with each protagonist. Compounding on this issue, contributors had large discrepancies in personality; some were captivating in their narrations while others could cure insomnia. This issue can be expected with the inclusion of non-actors in any documentary, but it has an impact on quality regardless.

So, while The Tinder Swindler filled a clever niche in time for Valentine’s day, it fell flat in cast selection despite centering itself on natural storytelling. Some could say audiences were catfished, but others would realize that the program had been shot through the heart before it could stand on its own two feet—not that it could get as far as globetrotter Hayut. After all, a Woman in Love can’t be expected to walk 500 miles even if Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic. Besides, what is love if not a Total Eclipse of the Heart?