Film review: Astronaut

Richard Dreyfuss shines in this saga of a ticket to space


Veteran Hollywood actor Richard Dreyfuss makes a welcome return to the big screen in British actor-turned-filmmaker Shelagh McLeod’s debut feature Astronaut. He plays an ailing widower who goes against the wishes of his family to win a competition for a golden ticket to space in this charming, if admittedly contrived drama. The film, which was set to open in cinemas on the same week that lockdown started, is now being made available to stream online on a number of platforms.


Retired civil engineer Angus Stewart (Dreyfuss) hasn’t been having the best of times of late. After the death of his wife and his own recent health scare, Angus has reluctantly agreed to move in with his daughter Molly (Krista Bridges), her disapproving husband Jim (Lyriq Bent) and doting grandson Barney (Richie Lawrence). Although displeased by his current situation, Angus has found in Barney a welcome ally with whom he shares a deep love for adventure and space travel.


After yet another health scare, Angus is shipped off by his family to live in an old people’s home believing it to be safer for him.  Apprehensive at first, the old man soon settles into his new life and even learns to make some new friends. Meanwhile, encouraged by Barney’s enthusiasm, Angus lies about his age to enter a competition which could see him win a place on the first commercial flight to outer space set up by Elon Musk-esque billionaire Marcus Brown (Colm Feore). 

Sitting somewhere between The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and something slightly more earnest, this charming tale of triumph over adversity does its best with some limited resources. And although the writing is a tad on the flimsy side,  there is still a lot to admire about a film which has aspirations beyond what is expected from it.

Far from being jarring, McLeod’s far-fetched premise somehow manages to overcome its shortcomings to tell a beautifully nuanced story of love and acceptance. Owing much of its charm and likability to Dreyfuss’s beautifully  measured turn, the film has at the centre of its story a somewhat timely and touching message about the treatment of the elderly. 

Elevated by some beautifully nuanced performances, Astronaut manages to be both touching and hugely watchable. It is however Dreyfuss’s stunning delivery which saves it from being mere “grey pound” fodder.


Astronaut will be available for streaming on Amazon, BT, Google Play, iTunes, Rakuten, Sky Store and Virgin from the 27th of April.

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