A sinister industrial town is home to the last remnants of a dying Irish American community. Two ghosts, Lilly, and Ruthie, haunt a dilapidated shack behind a dingy pub, The Rose of Erin. Supernaturally, they are linked to a rocking chair in which they both died prematurely. Lilly (Marianne Faithfull) was the wife of Frank (Seymour Cassel), the gruff manager of The Rose of Erin, who killed her in a fit of jealousy. Ruthie (Rachel Bella) was a small innocent girl from a faraway land. The two ghosts move when Sheila (Maggie O’Neil), a character dancer in The Rose of Erin, saves the chair from Frank’s tantrums and presents it to Marty (Alfred Molina), the owner of her flat. Marty is a 40-something jazz musician and music teacher, who, out of inveterate worldliness, doesn’t pay attention to Sheila’s wistful glances. When the two rocking chair ghosts explore their new home, they turn out to get on well with Marty and Sheila. They will become the instruments of Lilly’s revenge on Frank.

This charming low-budget production is a fantastic comedy in the vein of Jules Dassin’s The Canterville Ghost (1944) and Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People (1942). Director Sara Driver, a good friend and regular collaborator of Jim Jarmusch, made her first feature film, You are not I, based on a book by Paul Bowles, in 1982. Her second, Sleepwalk, from 1986, was a fantastic film about a woman translating a mysterious Chinese manuscript. When Pigs Fly, a much-noticed feature at the Locarno Festival, shows how death often sharpens our appreciation for the most trivial things in life. Driver plays to its heart’s content with the clichés of the genre and can count on the fine acting performances of Seymour Cassel (In the Soup), Alfred Molina (Kiss of the Spider Woman) and Marianne Faithfull (Heart-breaking Pictures and Turn of the Screw).

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