Raymond Barry gives a brilliant performance as Walter Ohlinger, the smoldering, bizarrely unpredictable -- yet calculating ex-Marine who burns to tell the tale of how he was the real killer of John F. Kennedy. . First-time feature director Neil Burger does a superb job of keeping the audience on edge trying to figure out whether Ohlinger is legit.

Raymond Barry gives a brilliant performance as Walter Ohlinger, the smoldering, bizarrely unpredictable — yet calculating ex-Marine who burns to tell the tale of how he was the real killer of John F. Kennedy. First-time feature director Neil Burger does a superb job of keeping the audience on edge trying to figure out whether Ohlinger is legit, infusing the pic with a docu-like feel that enhances the creep quotient. Pic is also a study of the desperation that drives some people to seek out notoriety. A potential “Blair Witch” for the conspiracy-minded, producers Brian Koppelman and David Levien have delivered a film that should have some real B.O. appeal on the indie circuit.

After ascertaining that his next-door neighbor, TV reporter Ron Kobeleski (Dylan Haggerty) is desperate to break out of local news, Ohlinger says he’s willing to give Kobeleski the story of a lifetime — that he was the second gunman on the grassy knoll, and that he’s only willing to tell his story because he’s dying of cancer and needs to make peace with himself. To verify the story, the ex-Marine takes the reporter to a safety deposit box and shows him a shell-casing he claims belongs to the bullet used to bring down Kennedy. Kobeleski takes the casing to a ballistics expert, where it’s confirmed that it could have come from the kind of gun that delivered the bullet that killed JFK.

After a meeting between Kobeleski and Ohlinger’s ex-wife (Kate Williamson) suggests the extent of Walter’s pathological behavior, Ron again meets with Ohlinger, who claims he was a trained killer in the Marines, and his superior officer, Seymour (Darrell Sandeen) — evidently looking for someone unstable — signed up this misfit for the JFK murder scheme. Kobeleski and Ohlinger fly to Dallas to reenact the crime, and when Ron asks Walter what he was thinking during the shooting, the emotionless Walter replies, “I was hungry,” and then later says, “Killing someone is the easy part. Getting away is the hard part.”

A scene in which Ohlinger inappropriately shows himself to be a crack shot is followed by the revelation that he and Kobeleski are suddenly being followed by police. Ohlinger confronts the cop and beats him senseless.

The pair track down Seymour in a military hospital where he, too, is found to be gravely ill. But when Ohlinger discovers Seymour won’t corroborate his story, he instructs Kobeleski to leave the room. Meeting up with the reporter in the hallway, he announces Seymour is dead.

An enraged Kobeleski is ready to quit the scene, but Ohlinger, gauging the desperation of a man who has staked his career and the last of his money on this story, convinces the reporter to meet him at in Washington, D.C., where Walter displays the depths of his depravity, and the action is spun into a fateful epilogue.

Barry is a natural for the part of Walter and the unknown cast around him is extremely believable as average folk, so much so, that it’s hard to imagine the dialogue is scripted. DP Richard Rutkowski (“Chelsea Walls”) goes to great lengths to make the footage look like a documentary, featuring a wobbly hand-held, grainy footage and primitive jump-cuts. . “Interview With the Assassin” is a satisfying picture that like a pot of water on the stove keeps heating up until it explodes.

Interview .. with the Assassin

Production

A Magnolia Pictures release of a Koppelman/Levien Production. Executive Producer, Tom Tucker. Directed, written by Neil Burger.

Crew

Camera (color), Richard Rutkowski; editor, Brad Fuller; production design, Greg Finnin; costume design, Jenny Gering; sound (Dolby SR), Tony Martinez; casting, Nicole Arbusto, Joy Dixon. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival Center. N.Y., May 9, 2002. Running Time: 88 MIN.

With

Walter Ohlinger - Raymond J. Barry Ron Kobeleski - Dylan Haggerty
With: Renee Faia, Kelsey Kemper, Dennis J. Lau, Jared McVay, Christel Khalil, Lillias White, Kate Williamson, Jack Tate, Nick Mize, James Hiser, Mike Wood, Darrell Sandeen, Evan O'Meara, Robert Samuel Thompson, Jimmy Burke.

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