Author, poet, lawyer, former college football player, basic bro. I'm what you'd get if you crossed Nicolas Cage and Creed Bratton together
Beginning around the early 90’s, the romantic comedy film genre (otherwise known as “rom-coms”) were all the rave. Feel good, lighthearted movies, they were guilty pleasures of many women, and, if we’re being honest, quite a few men. But somewhere around the mid to late 2000’s, the genre plummeted faster than a hang glider carrying a body positivity activist. It’s too bad because there were quite a few solid rom-coms flicks.
There were some classics, such as, When Harry Met Sally and Pretty Woman to My Best Friend’s Wedding and You’ve Got Mail. Though I suspect a number of people would characterize these as being “chick flicks,” I have to admit that I do enjoy the previously mentioned films. Hell, I’ll even admit that I still get a few chuckles whenever I watch How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Even the Adam Sandler varieties are quite enjoyable, as The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates are both humorous and tug at the heart strings.
Yet, eventually the genre became oversaturated with cinematic garbage. Despite having a big name cast, Failure To Launch…well…failed to launch, crashing harder at the box office than the Hindenburg. Runaway Bride attempted to recapture the magic of Pretty Woman by essentially taking the main cast from the latter to recycle into the former. However, it’s so bad that I would guess that the gerbil Richard Gere shoved in his ass would rather remain in that anal crevice than be forced to watch that film. American audiences paid almost less attention to From Justin to Kelly than Disney and the NBA do to CPP's Uyghur genocide. And who can forget All About Steve, a movie more cringeworthy than a postmodern feminist’s TikTok page.
Nevertheless, romantic comedies have made a resurgence in recent years, as a new generation of actors have taken up the mantle. Thus, now is as good a time as any to pitch a new entry to the genre—something that is bound to entice audiences. My idea is to make a romantic comedy centered around the unique personas of Simon Liviev and Anna Delvey, two like minds recently catapulted into prominence by the Netflix programs The Tinder Swindler and Creating Anna, respectively.
Simon Liviev, real name Shimon Yehuda Hayut, is an Israeli national and con artist who found women on Tinder, then preceded to scam the ever-living hell out of them. He did this by introducing them to a life of luxury—flying them in private jets, taking them to lavish dinners, staying with them in fancy resorts, etc. However, it was all a façade, as Simon would pay for his extravagant lifestyle through what was essentially a Ponzi scheme. He would lure these women in, date them for a while, then start begging for cash to pay for other dates. Simon did this by claiming he was in some kind of fix, such as his life being in danger, and claiming he needed cash immediately.
Anna Delvey, real name Anna Sorokin, had a similar upbringing to her counterpart. Like him, she came from modest means, her parents emigrating from Russia to Germany immediately following the Soviet Union’s collapse. Yet, Anna possessed a remarkable ability to portray herself as something she wasn’t. Arriving in America, Anna quickly ingratiated herself within the New York City high society scene by claiming to be the heiress of a vast German family’s fortune. Her guise was so believable that Anna was not only able to rub shoulders with the city’s elite, but con them out of large sums of money. Similar to Simon, she funded her luxurious appetite by convincing her friends to “temporary” spot her cash.
So, the question is—how would a romantic comedy depicting these two charlatans work? Well, I have one idea for a film that if made, would explode at the box office more violently than Jeffery Toobin on a work call.
The way I would set up this movie up is something akin to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. In that film, Matthew McConaughey is secretly trying to prove he can make any women fall in love with him in under two weeks in order to win an advertising pitch. The woman who is chosen is Kate Hudson, who is conversely writing an article on how to drive a man away in ten days or less, with McConaughey being her mark. Hence, both characters have secret agendas unbeknownst to one another until the movie’s climax. This blueprint works well here as you have two people attempting to con one another as a means to fund their respective lavish lifestyles, yet unaware of their partner’s true motives.
The other essential aspect of any rom-com is the character’s friends. Usually the female protagonist has one or two close friends, each with distinct personality quirks. If there are two friends, one is usually the hopeless romantic while the other is the designated slut. There also sometimes exists the unfiltered gay friend, who makes very poignant and often rude comments, yet whose brutal observations are many times correct.
On the other hand, the male character’s friends are usually a bit blander, as they usually serve merely as outlets for the protagonist to express his feelings, too. For the record, this is an issue I have with the rom-com franchise. No man I know of ever talks about their feelings or romantic relationships while playing basketball or poker. They may occasionally swap sex stories, but they won’t go deep into their long-term relationships, at least in those settings. But I digress.
So, for the fun of it, I’ll just make it that Simon’s best friend is his bodyguard. For those of you who watched Tinder Swindler, he was that big, brooding, behemoth who Simon always claimed was attacked before conning his marks out of cash. Because it’s a rom-com, I’ll make him an ironic character—the large muscular man with a deep voice and Eastern European accent who is actually a clear-eyed romantic. I can’t think of any particular role for Avi, his business partner. He can just be like one McConaughey’s friends from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days-- just make the occasional comment and shocked expression every time some slightly significant event occurs.
The movie would start out the same way all romantic comedies do—introducing the main characters. Begin with a segment of Simon out on a first date with some chick he just met on Tinder. It’s a luxurious restaurant with incredible food and magnificent décor. Throughout the date however, Simon consistently has to leave the table to take “business calls”. In reality, he is texting with another girl, a previous date he is trying to scam money out of in order to pay for this meal. The bill eventually arrives, and Simon is terrified he won’t be able to pay, thus unraveling this new scheme before it can get off the ground. But at the last second, he receives a notification that $50,000 has been wired to his account. Phew, that was a close call!
We then meet Anna, who is on her way to some major New York financial institution. She has a meeting with several executives in order to try to acquire a line of credit. This scene would be important in demonstrating Anna’s intelligence and charisma, as she’s able to obtain a line of credit amounting to $2,000,000. She then joins her friends for a nice lunch at an exclusive country club outside the city, where she somehow convinces several boomer men who just finished a round of golf to pay for their meal.
The next day, Simon decides to take a last minute trip to NYC with his friends. While traveling in Simon’s private jet, his bodyguard says to him,
“Boss, have you ever thought that maybe it’s time to settle down?”
“What do you mean settle down?” Simon replies.
“You know, find a girl you actually like and start a family with her. Live happily ever after.”
“Why would I ever do that? I’m in the prime of my life. I got the perfect thing going: girls, money, expensive vacations. I’m living the life.”
His bodyguard sighs.
“I don’t know, I just feel there is more to life than all this. I mean, what’s the point of money, cars, and fancy dinners if you can’t share it with someone special; someone you really care about, you know?”
“To each his own,” Simon retorts, as he leans back, putting in his headphones and closing his eyes.
Now we get to the next essential rom-com juncture and that is the meeting. Simon arrives in New York, and upon checking into his high roller suite at whatever obscenely lavish hotel he’s chosen, Simon scrolls through Tinder and eventually lands on Anna’s page. His eyes light up when he reads her profile, discovering she is from an affluent German family. At that same time, Anna is also perusing Tinder, hoping to find a rich man she can woo into investing in her. She gets excited when she finds Simon, whose pictures portray the uber-wealthy man she’s been searching for. The two immediately swipe right on each other and get to talking.
The two then go on their first date. Though this should have been like any other date for Simon, he soon finds himself impressed by Anna. He’s never met a girl so confident, direct and charismatic. Likewise, Anna is intrigued by Simon’s mysteriousness. Simon then offers to take Anna on a trip to the Bahamas. They immediately go to his private jet, where they take off take off and stay at some swanky hotel for a few days.
Anna arrives back home and meets up with her friends, recounting her experience.
“Oh, my God!” exclaims her hopeless romantic friend, “That’s so sweet! Why can’t I find a man like that? Just for once I would like to fall for a guy who treats me like I’m his one and everything.”
“Girl, you got to lock that shit down,” counsels her token gay friend. “Men like that have short attention spans and quickly like to move on. My advice— get yourself pregnant, so then he has to stick with you. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.”
“Who cares about all that?!”
Her slutty friend chimes in, “What’s important is did you get any? How big was his penis? Is he one of those rich guys who compensates for small genitals with fancy stuff or is he packing a magnum under those Gucci pants?”
Anna and her friends stare at their slutty comrade.
“What?!” She defends herself, “Can’t a girl have a little fun?”
Simon and Anna go on several more dates. And though they don’t want to admit it, they start falling for one another. Simon’s observant bodyguard begins to notice this.
“Simon, if you don’t mind me asking, why haven’t you pulled the scam on her yet? Normally, you would have done that by now.”
“I’m just waiting for the right time. This is a tough girl to crack.”
“Ahh, I see. So, you are starting to like this girl, aren’t you?”
“What?! Me?! No….this is all strictly business. I have no personal attachment whatsoever.”
The bodyguard gives off a slight smile, knowing full well what’s really going on.
We’ve now arrived to the next rom-com stage—the breakup. Torn between his feelings for Anna and that fact that he desperately needs cash, Simon decides to enact the next phase of his scam. He texts Anna one night saying that he is trouble. Men want to hurt him and he needs money immediately. To his surprise, Simon doesn’t receive the typical concerned text. Rather, Anna asks him for money and says she will wire payment for his problems once he gives her cash. Simon is confused.
The two keep going back and forth, trying to gain money and account information from one another. Eventually, a stalemate ensures. This is when both characters decide to look into each other’s backgrounds and M.O.’s, and realize that they are both con artists.
They then confront each other at some high-end, New York public function. (These fights always MUST take place in front of large crowds). They accuse each other of being frauds. Eventually, a tearful Anna runs out and takes a cab home, as a distraught Simon watches her drive off.
A month later, a dejected Simon is sitting on his hotel couch watching TV. His bodyguard picks up the remote and shuts it off.
“Boss, you need to get out. You’ve been moping in here for weeks. This isn’t healthy.”
Simon ignores him, still staring at the black screen.
“Sir,” the bodyguard says, “I’ve been with you for many years through numerous scams. I know you well and I can tell you, I know you aren’t sad because this scheme went array. It is because you realized, for the first time in your life, you found something more important than hotels, cars, private planes and fancy meals. You found love.”
Tears start to run down Simon’s cheeks.
“And let me tell you,” he continues, “no amount of money can ever fill that gaping hole inside you. The only thing that can is that special someone.”
Simon shoots up.
“You’re right,” he says. “Get the car!”
“Where are we going, sir?”
Simon turns to his friend.
“We’re going to get the girl.”
The bodyguard excitedly pumps his first.
“I get the car.”
Now, we’re at the final climatic scene—the rekindling. Simon calls up Anna’s friend and discovers she’s about to flee the United States. Simon and his bodyguard swerve through NYC traffic, eventually spotting her cab and forcing it off the road. Anna then gets out of the car, and begins screaming.
“What the hell are you doing?! Are you trying to get me killed?!”
“Anna, listen. All my life, I’ve been pretending to be something I’ve not. I thought that if I could be something else, I could have the life I never had. I believe that I could make myself happy with expensive clothes and vacations. And for a while, I did. But I soon realized that this gaping void remained inside of me, and it was only until I met you that I realized what I needed—it was you.”
Tears begin falls down Anna’s cheeks.
“So, you run me off the road just to tell me that?”
“No, I came here to tell you that you swindled me. Not out of my money or my possessions. You swindled my heart.”
The cab driver honks.
“Hey, lady! You comin’ or what?!”
A tearful Anna stares at Simon for a few seconds, then rushes up to him. The two embrace while everyone in the preceding traffic jam begins to clap.
And that’s it. That’s the movie. There could even be a sequel in which Anna and Simon go on a double date with Billy McFarland and Elizabeth. But that’s a story for another time. Hope you enjoyed.
© 2022 RMS Thornton