Dylan Haggerty is Ron Kobeleski, the unemployed lenser, who's something of a doofus and frustrates his wife by putzing about playing with his camera and spying on his neighbors rather than job hunting. When Ron's neighbor Walter (Raymond J. Barry) asks Ron, who's passing himself off as a freelance reporter, to record an historic confessional, he jumps, more out of boredom than anything else. Walter then proceeds to dryly relate that he is the second man many believed was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November, 1963. Incredulous, Ron continues filming Walter's detailed confession, which was prompted by the need to "come clean" after a fatal cancer diagnosis. Accompanying Walter from L.A. to Dallas and Washington, Ron grows increasingly convinced that he is indeed onto the real thing, yet cannot shake an edge of doubt that he might also be the victim of a dedicated nut.
As Walter, Barry ("Dead Man Walking"), with his deadpan delivery and retired drill sergeant bearing, projects exactly the demeanor one would imagine from someone involved in so great a mystery. Walter's acknowledgement that he agreed to do the job for no reason other than it was an opportunity to use his wartime sniper abilities and have a moment of power rings eerily true. So does the fact that Walter would somehow remain alive more than 25 years after the incident, despite the film's production notes' long, frightening list of assassination witnesses who have died under mysterious circumstances. Adding to Walter's enigmatic air is a nice bit with Walter's ex-wife (played by Kate Williamson).
Yet Burger stumbles with Haggerty's character, who is gullible to the point of foolishness. Why doesn't Ron investigate Walter to match his story with substantive facts? Why does Walter continue confessing to Ron when he realizes that he isn't a legitimate reporter? One can only suspend so much disbelief--even when we want to believe.
Burger's--or, more specifically, Walter's--tale is fantastic, but not fantastic--or original--enough. The sequence filmed in Dallas seems like outtakes from Oliver Stone's "JFK." And the ease with which Walter sneaks into a high-powered Washington press conference completely lacks credibility or adequate explanation. If only Burger had thrown in an "X-Files" Smoking Man or crafted Ron's naiveté to be more along the lines of Fox Mulder's driven faith, then "Interview with the Assassin" might ring with the authority believers so desperately need. Starring Raymond J. Barry and Dylan Haggerty. Directed and written by Neil Burger. Produced by Brian Koppelman and David Levien. A Magnolia release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 85 min