Rich Pickings on Astronaut


Director and screenwriter Shelagh McLeod’s feature film debut is an emotional rollercoaster ride ranging from deflation to elation. It benefits from a highly emotive score by Virginia Kilbertus and astounding and agile cinematography by Scott McLellan. Richard Dreyfuss puts in a once-in-a-lifetime performance as Angus, an 80-year-old with dreams of space travel.

So when Angus discovers he has been short-listed to take part in a TV competition to win a place on the world’s first commercial space voyage it seems his long-held dreams have come true at last. But this is no sentimental or soppy look at his situation. He has had to sell off his home after his late wife turns out to have bought a donkey farm. So he enters a retirement home where he is really the life and soul of the party.

Though that is not all: his family are in dire straits with his son-in-law caught out for illegal banking and his daughter knows nothing of his intended trip into space. He does, however, have the support of his grandson Barney, a revelation in Richie Lawrence. When Angus flunks his chance on the TV show where the lucky astronaut is chosen he instead begins a mission to ensure the mission’s safety.

As a civil engineer he has direct knowledge of the runway’s flaws and brings this to the attention of the powers-that-be. No spoilers here but suffice to say that the film has an upbeat ending that is tremendously touching. And at times like this don’t we all need to follow our dreams a little more?!

Reviewed on 18 March 2020 by Rich Jevons. On general release in the UK on 20 March.

See trailer:

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About richjevons23

Rich Jevons is a freelance journalist based in Leeds. Just a quick intro: thirty years' journalistic experience (I was published in the Yorkshire Post at the tender age of fifteen!); a decade as Arts Editor at Leeds Guide; freelancer including work for Big Issue in the North, Metro Newspaper, Artscene, Northern Exposure, AN, AJ, BJP, Hotshoe International, National Drama, Plays International... And edited until its demise at the end of 2013. Now writing predominantly for,,, and

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