Directed By: Felicity Morris
Where I Watched It: Netflix
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Description Provided By X Trax
Narration Written By: Maury Morrison
Narrated By: Thomas Reid
Special Note: I wrote this review, and have decided to leave it as is because of the schadenfreude factor for my beloved readers. Yes, I always thought my screen reader was saying the word “Tender”, and not “Tinder” and at no point did that seem odd to me, like I needed to check my spelling. Because, the guy is being tender… in his seducing these women. So that made sense. But, after a reader pointed out that it is in fact Tinder, well, that obviously makes sense too. So, for your enjoyment, here’s a review of a film whose name I did not understand, but aside from some jokes about the name, everything else stands. As would the grade. We’re not all perfect. I could edit this review, and try and rewrite history, but the truth is, I thought it was Tender. i changed the title in case people are searching for it, otherwise, please enjoy my review of the film I like to call The Tender Swindler.
The plot: It’s pretty clear. It’s about a swindler… who is tender. Kind of like how Snakes On A Plane told you everything you needed to know. Oh, and this guy creeps on women on Tinder, convinces him that he is rich, dates them for a hot minute, and then comes up with a reason why they need to give him tons of money to save his life. And since they believe him, and believe he can reimburse them, they do. But, he’s “The Tender Swindler”, so you can imagine those women never saw that money, and instead made a documentary for Netflix.
What Works: While I’ve seen some documentaries that have rocked me to my core, there are also ones that are OK,and I feel like I learned something, got something out of it, or whatever. Here, I’m focused on the stories these women have to share. I wish they could have more done for them than just a trendy documentary that will inevitably lead to yet another limited series where someone like Naomi Watts is playing one of the swindled women. Because, you know that’s coming.
The fact that these women tried to tell their story, and the internet just laughed at them is sad. What if it was you? So many women meet men who turn out to be assholes, not just money hungry ones, but garden variety abusive assholes. Are we going to shame every woman who ever believed that the person they met and started a relationship with wasn’t pulling a Jekyll and Hyde? Cause if we are starting to do that, a lot of women are about to be shamed for simple life choices.
How about instead, we start looking at the men, like this douchebag who now is living his best life in Israel with a Ferrari and a model girlfriend. Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriends all have one thing in common. Crippling debt. That’s not a coincidence, no matter how much he wants to beat his chest and threaten to sue the makers of this documentary.
So yeah, this documentary works. I’m fired up.
What Doesn’t Work: Once again, the villain of this story has top billing on IMDB. This seems to be a trend with Netflix documentaries. Do something shitty, get a Netflix documentary, and an IMDB credit that puts you as the star of a film. And here, it quite literally makes no sense.
When I reviewed Our Father, I was confused about whether or not that douche had actually been invited to participate somehow. Here, the documentary goes out of its way to let you know that they made this without him, and when they reached out to him for comment, he recorded a little message threatening to sue them into oblivion. So, why is he top billing in a film in which he refused to participate, and not one of his victims?
Why are the victims still getting pushed under a proverbial rug? Do we need to do this with all documentaries now? Can we go back to The Cove and get all the names of those Japanese guys who massacred those dolphins and make sure we got their IMDB credits correct?
My only other complaints are that I would have loved to know if or how wide the reach was that this guy had, even if every woman didn’t want to participate. The filmmakers acknowledge that they believe he has other victims… yet were unable to provide a number. That high number in our Father is the most powerful moment of Our Father. If we find out that this guy duped 47 different women, that’s shocking, even though these women who do speak up make for a compelling and interesting documentary.
And also, there just are so many great documentaries out there, and Netflix seems to be churning out clickbait hot button topic documentaries like they are on a methodical assembly line. It makes it a little harder to fall head over heels when they sometimes feel very similar. Even the short form documentaries, and the series forms, they seem to put a green light on anything that has a pulse.
Last year, I was moved by several documentaries, and felt like my life had been changed in some way. While I learned, and I respect this story, I also know that gut feeling I get from other documentaries just isn’t there. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the imminent fear that he’ll soon be played by someone like Jared Leto in a limited series, where Netflix can really milk this story. Maybe it’s just that these women shouldn’t be continuously exploited.
The Blind Perspective: My biggest note to the audio description team is that I could have used more “check in’s” on who was speaking. I know, you guys assume blind people are all prodigies at instantly memorizing a voice and putting that to a name, but that’s not really true. After a while, I was struggling to figure out who was talking when, once everyone was introduced. It felt a little more discombobulating than it should have. Otherwise, I thought the narration was great. Just remember to use their names more frequently in a talking head documentary like this.
Final Thoughts: I can see why this trended. it’s interesting, I learned something, I gained perspective, and these women deserve some justice. However, I can’t help the feeling that this falls short of the gravity that some other heavier documentaries often carry on their shoulders.
Final Grade: B