Interview With The Assassin

More shaggy dog story than a contribution to the ever-growing mountain of fact and fiction dealing with the Kennedy assassination, Neil Burger's feature film debut is a cleverly crafted but ultimately hollow mockumentary purporting to chronicle one man's search for the truth. Out-of-work news cameraman Ron Kobeleski (Dylan Haggerty) embarks on an harrowing...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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More shaggy dog story than a contribution to the ever-growing mountain of fact and fiction dealing with the Kennedy assassination, Neil Burger's feature film debut is a cleverly crafted but ultimately hollow mockumentary purporting to chronicle one man's search for the truth. Out-of-work news cameraman Ron Kobeleski (Dylan Haggerty) embarks on an harrowing odyssey into the paranoid heart of American history when he agrees to film one of his neighbors in sunny San Bernadino, Calif. Sixty-two-year-old Walter Ohlinger (Raymond J. Barry) is dying of cancer and has something he'd like to get off chest before he goes — a serious crime he says he committed nearly 40 years earlier. Walter wants Ron to get it all down on tape, but makes Ron promise not to show it to the police until after he dies; he doesn't want to spend his final days in a jail cell. Ron agrees, but has serious second thoughts the minute the camera starts rolling and Walter makes the startling claim the he was the second gunman in Dallas on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963. Walter insists he was the man on the grassy knoll who, as conspiracy theorists have long speculated, fired the shot that actually killed President Kennedy. He even has the shell casing to prove it. Ron is inclined to pack up his camera and go home, but after a ballistics expert (Steven Wu) assures him that the bullet from the casing was indeed fired sometime after 1962, Ron begins to suspect he's onto something huge. He agrees to follow Walter first to Dallas, then to D.C., in search of the shadowy figure Walter says trained him to kill the president. Given the premise and the spot-on documentary stylings, Berger's film is oddly uninvolving; while ostensibly about one of the great crimes of the 20th century, it lacks the fevered interweaving of fact and fiction that makes, say, Oliver Stone's JFK such a wild, loopy ride, and conspiracy theories in general such fun to entertain. Barry, however, is quite a creepy find: With his tinted aviator shades and granite poker-face, he exudes a chilling sangfroid that could mask a trained government assassin, a total madman or something in between.

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