Rating: 4 out of 5.

This year, Judy Greer is truly having a moment. The legendary actress, who has starred in everything from Darren Stein’s quirky Jawbreaker to last year’s vastly underrated Reboot, wowed recently with her heartbreaking performance in Tribeca’s Eric LaRue. Now, Greer headlines sci-fi drama Aporia, from writer/director Jared Moshe. A script rich with moral quandaries gives Greer ample room to stretch her dramatic chops, again filling the shoes of a loving mother who struggles in her attempts to connect with her child.

Over the last eight months, Sophie (Greer) and her angsty daughter, Riley (Faithe Herman), have been dealing with the untimely death of patriarch Malcolm (Edi Gathegi) in a drunk driving accident. For Sophie, she has lost her best friend, and an amazing father. Riley has been skipping school and losing interest in socializing with friends, or keeping mementos from her father. Riley seems to be a shell of who she once was, and Sophie does not know how to deal with the pressure. Sophie’s close friend, Jabir (Payman Maadi), a former physicist, presents an impossible solution: what if they could make it so that the drunk driver who killed Malcolm died before he had a chance to get on the road?

Jabir presents time-travel machinations that appear uniquely specific to Aporia. Though Jabir intended for the machine to be capable of time travel, there was instead an unexpected result. Certainly, the random wires and mechanical appearance suggest one’s typical image of a time machine, albeit with a low-tech twist. This device is capable of changing the past by murdering someone from it. That’s right, the machine itself is actually just fancy murder-equipment. As Aporia allows its audience to learn the specifics of the way its time-altering tweaks come into affect, a sort of magic lies in its execution.

Jabir’s entire reason for trying to invent a time machine in the first place was to save his family, all disappeared and seen as enemies of the government. Playing God cannot be taken lightly; Jabir and Sophie start delving more into what they have changed, as well as what they can change. Thus, we have our central conflict. Can the alterations made by changing the past really help to build a better future? Is ultimate happiness possible, or merely a pipe dream?

Perhaps the film does not entirely stick the landing, but I always prefer a bit of ambiguity rather than over-explanation. In life, we cannot always find a happy ending, and the same is true in film. Rarely do we see time travel portrayed in this manner—grounded, emotional, and with real consequences. Aporia is essentially a butterfly effect situation, told with nuances and relatable ‘what if’ choices. It makes you question how far you would go to change things for those you hold dearest. Led by a spectacular Judy Greer, Aporia ends up one of the best time-travel premises in recent memory.

Aporia screened at 2023’s Fantasia International Film Festival.

One thought on “Fantasia 2023: Aporia

Leave a Reply