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There are so many ways to go with the whole Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory. Check out any conspiracy website and you’ll find everything from aliens to the hoax scenario, as in JFK didn’t really die and for all we know, he’s still living in a more or less vegetative state on that private island Onassis set him up with. Writer/ Director Neil Burger has boldly chosen to go in a completely different direction with his film, INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN. Where others, most notably Oliver Stone with JFK, have given free reign to flights of fancy limited only by their imagination and budget, Burger has gone with bland.  And the rip-off title with overtones of Anne Rice is just annoying.


His premise, though, is a sound one. An out-of-work television cameraman is invited over to the home of Walter, his crotchety next-door neighbor who reveals that he was the second gunman in Dallas on that fateful day. Further, it was his shot that killed the president. He’s decided to come forward after all this time because he has only a few months to live. He proffers as evidence a shell casing that he claims is from the bullet that killed the president. When it’s tested in a lab, it proves to be the right age and to have been fired circa 1962, give or take a couple of years.


Naturally our cameraman sees a goldmine here. He dutifully shells out money to travel with Walter to Dealy Plaza and later to visit Walter’s old Marine chums. While the on-location footage of Walter wandering around the Grassy Knoll, reliving his one shot that changed the world is interesting in a documentary sort of way, the rest of the film falls so flat that there’s not even a resounding thud to break the tedium. The problem is Raymond J. Barry’s interpretation of Walter. He’s boring. This ex-Marine with a brush cut and a complete lack of personality deals a death blow to any interesting tidbits that might crop up along the way with his monotone delivery and completely blank expression. Even waving a gun doesn’t make this guy compelling in the least. Plus, he doesn’t know anything about the conspiracy. He was hired by one of his old Marine officers who told him nothing and who is now, alas, dead.


Worse, the faux documentary done in painfully cinema verité style, makes the BLAIR WITCH PROJECT look like James Wong Howe or John Alton at their collective best. As for the script, it wanders around in circles when it should be building a sense of paranoia and menace, there’s little more than the cinematic equivalent of motion sickness as we watch Walter and the travel hither and yon, but not yon enough. Though odd things happen to the pair, possible stalkers, possible attempts on the lives of loved ones, you never get the feeling that this is nothing more than a series of coincidences of the sort to be found anywhere and anytime if you just look hard enough.


At 88 minutes, it seems so much longer. When it finally reaches what it hopes will pass for a dénoument, we are too bored to care. That it is being released on the 29th anniversary of that dark day in Dallas, is just a shame.

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