Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Forbidden Lies (Anna Broinowski, 2007)


Comfortably the most compelling Australian picture of the season, Anna Broinowski’s documentary inspects the case of author Norma Khouri, who sold her Jordanian-honour-killing exposé ‘Forbidden Love’ as an autobiographical piece until a pair of diligent Aussie reporters discovered she was in fact an American con-artist wanted by the FBI. In the beguiling, confounding, continually shape-shifting Khouri, Broinowski stumbled upon a goldmine – the woman is compulsive viewing on her own, so all the cutesy flash montages and chapter sub-headings that Broinowski piles on tend to distract from the story more than they jazz it up. And though it’s a polished and expensive-looking piece of work, there is nothing inherently cinematic about the way it's been put together. But with such a dazzling, twist-ladden, larger-than-life tale, it’s enough that you’re able to follow the multiple lies-within-lies-within-lies (not to mention that you’re given the opportunity to watch Khouri in interview) and Broinowski ought to be praised for that.


At 6:17 PM , Blogger Paul Martin said...

I think the secret to a good documentary is to firstly have a good subject. That's what Broinowski has here, and as you mentioned, she stumbled on a goldmine. The story unfolds before the camera in a way that was not predictable. What I found most compelling was how we now have a portrait of a compulsive liar. Psychologists and others could use this film as a tool to demonstrate how convincing and charismatic a compulsive liar can be. That's the art of being a con-man or con-woman.

At 10:44 AM , Anonymous ERS said...

But I think it's a pity that, amongst all this jostling and positioning, the issue of "honor" killings has become somewhat shoved to the background.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

At 11:04 PM , Blogger Y Kant Goran Rite said...

As far as having a position on honor killing, I think Broinowski (whether intentionally or not) left it at "it's not as common as they tell you". I don't know that that's a responsible attitude but it's certainly a fascinating one, worthy of a feature doco of its very own.

I certainly would have liked to spend more time with those very intelligent and articulate Jordanian ladies who fight against honor killings and the Western perversion of Islam's reputation. Obviously the focus here was Khouri's compulsive lying, but I do think that if Broinowski dug a bit deeper into the connotations of her book's success (and the fact that it was so effortless to begin with), her movie would have been all the richer for it.


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