starring Richard Dreyfuss, Lyriq Bent, Krista Bridges, Colm Feore
written and directed by Shelagh McLeod
Fantasia Festival 2019 runs July 11-August 1 in Montreal, Quebec. Visit the fest's official site for more details.
by Walter Chaw The variety of oldsploitation entertained briefly by Steven Spielberg in the 1980s, Shelagh McLeod's Astronaut saves itself from terminal sap by allowing its hero, retired widower Angus (Richard Dreyfuss), a modicum of agency before the end. In that pursuit, the film becomes something like a rebuke of "Google expertise," a defense of experiential knowledge and Boomers, who have, let's face it, fallen a few dozen notches on the Q-meter of late. It seems billionaire Marcus (Colm Feore) has set up a lottery wherein one lucky, publicly voted-upon winner will get a chance to go into space on the first commercial vehicle making the trip. Angus is a couple of decades past the cut-off age and in nowhere near the physical shape to do it, but he enters anyway because it's always been a dream of his. His life on Earth has taken a turn of late: Long-suffering daughter Molly (Krista Bridges) has put him away in a home, while son-in-law Jim (Lyriq Bent) has secretly lost his job doing some shady stuff at the bank where he works. You could say there's something in here about the corruption of the banking industry, the difficulties of the working class, and the problem of Boomers threatening to become a sudden burden all at once on our palliative/hospice care system, too. There's also a rescued-donkey farm for some reason. Maybe it's a metaphor. Maybe it's nothing.