It would be easy to dismiss Astronaut as a sweet, inconsequential family drama, but it has the potential to positively affect how kids treat the elderly. The film has a purpose: to remind viewers that an older person may have creaks and crinkles but isn't any different on the inside -- they still have thoughts and dreams, hurts and happiness, and valuable knowledge to contribute. Writer-director Shelagh McLeod doesn't come at her audience with a film screaming about ageism; rather, she subtly weaves in her point while avoiding all clichés.
Let's also recognize the achievement of giving a civil engineer his due: Angus brings to light all that goes into making roads and bridges safe, something many people take for granted. That said, while Angus' passion for rocks and soil gets a lot of attention, the issues that affect the supporting characters -- agoraphobia, a legal battle, a neglected teaching degree, and a donkey sanctuary -- are touched upon but not well explored. It's similar to how we experience others' drama peripherally in our own lives: We care, we want to be involved, but our attention tends to be on our own battles. While that's clearly McLeod's style, the lack of fuller explanation may sometimes leave viewers confused. On the other hand, McLeod's slice-of-life approach unveils a wide swath of diversity without fanfare or comment. As we know, art reflects life, and then life reflects art. In this case, a small film represents a small step for man, woman, the aged, the disabled, the LGBTQ community, and people of color; enough steps, and -- before you know it -- we can hopefully look back at the leap in progress that was made for humanity.