Ernie Blick, an orphaned young man, works on an invention which will make people happy, not sad. Encouraged by his punk musician best friend Julia, Ernie unveils his breakthough, a television set which should enable viewers to see Heaven.
A genuinely original film, co-scripted by director Mark Romanek (who waited a long time to deliver his second feature, One Hour Photo) and star Keith Gordon (on the point of becoming a director himself). Set in an Arizonan desert nowhere around Christmas, Static has a Lynch-like feel for small-town bizarre, as represented by the hero’s odd day job of weeding defective crucifixes out of a production line for religious artefacts, which leads to him getting fired when it’s discovered he has been collecting deformed Jesuses for use in his own artwork. You can tell how skewed from normality the picture is because Amanda Plummer, usually typecast as a loon, plays the anchor of sanity in this world.
Gordon and Plummer are particularly good as the not-quite romantic leads, substantiating their claim that they once felt like twins by matching each other tic for tic in a toned-down screwball relationship that is one of the cinema’s rare attempts at depicting something as complicated as a friendship. The gradual revelation of just what it is that the hero is making in his workshop is well-handled, as is the disappointment that comes when most folk (and the audience) only see static on the monitor that should be a portal to Heaven. The film is bewildering, sometimes close to whimsical, but its wit, humanity and unique outlook stay in the mind.
It has a soundtrack mix of punk, New Wave British bands, Christmas kitsch and country and western, and a distinctively weird but naturalistic visual style to go with its fantastical but down-to-earth storyline.
This is bewildering, sometimes close to whimsical, but its wit, humanity and unique outlook stay in the mind.