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Thursday, 13 September 2007

Forbidden Lie$

In 2004 Norma Khouri's best-selling book Forbidden Love was a global sensation, a gripping true-life tale exposing the horror of Jordan's 'honour killings' where young women were killed by their family for falling in love with the wrong man. Then West Australian journalist Malcolm Knox exposed the book as a fake, and Khouri as a married Chicago mother of two - not the Jordanian virgin she'd claimed to be. Norma went on the run, leaving her kids behind with a neighbour for months while her publishers pulled the book from the shelves and tried to retrieve the hundreds of thousands of dollars Norma had received in advances. She's been in hiding ever since - until now. In Forbidden Lie$, film-maker Anna Broinowski gives Norma enough rope to hang herself, and instead finds herself tangled up in an ever more complex tales of scams and interconnected lies with the increasingly compelling Norma front and centre throughout. The twists and turns of the tale in itself are enthralling, especially as Norma refuses to back down as more and more holes get punched in her story, but the portrait of Norma, aka "one of the best [con artists] ever", that gradually develops is just as interesting. By turns laugh-out-loud, wince-making, appalling and bizarre, this constantly surprising documentary is a classic.

Anthony Morris

(this review appeared in Forte#41o)

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