Aporia is a sophisticated emotional drama that employs the prism of time travel to examine human relationships and moral quandaries about what it means to exist. It is a novel science fiction spin on a classic subject. While the plot is based on the use of a science-fiction device, the film is light on traditional elements of the genre, relying almost entirely on the characters’ personal relationships and shared memories to tell a story about the ripple effect one life can have on even the smallest details of the world around them.
Aporia, written and directed by Jared Moshé, has a strong concept at its core. Would you do it if you could bring back the person you love the most by killing the person who took their life before it happened? That is the central subject of this film, and while anybody who has experienced such personal grief may believe that choosing is simple, it is not without implications.
As Aporia takes on an atmospheric vitality, Moshé’s directing outperforms his script. The audience will feel as if they are in the same room as these individuals as they deal with sorrow, loss, and the crushing weight of making life-altering decisions. However, the screenplay has major pacing flaws, and several moments that should have a powerful effect fall flat in the final result.
Judy Greer, who plays Sophie Rice, a lady who lost her husband to a drunk driver and is determined to go to any length to have him back, stands out among the group. Greer bears a significant portion of Aporia’s emotional complexity, demonstrating her spectrum from tiredness and sadness to desperation and humiliation to ecstasy and love. Edi Gathegi, who portrays her husband, Mal, gives a good performance, especially when he gets to bounce ideas off Greer and lean into their true connection.
Faithe Herman, the young actress who plays their daughter, has a lot of potential. While she does not have the most prominent role in the film, she is convincing as the intelligent but moody adolescent. Payman Maadi portrays Jabir, a physicist who, alongside Mal, invents the time machine that allows the protagonists to assassinate someone in the past.
Unfortunately, Maadi delivers the poorest performance of the bunch, although this might be attributed to a flaw in the writing for Jabir more than anything Maadi did or did not accomplish. There’s a parallel narrative in which Jabir lost his own family a long time ago, but because the audience is told rather than seen, it falls short of making us desire to see him travel far enough back in time to save them.
The most significant disadvantage of Aporia is that it is, for the most part, fairly uninteresting. Much of the first half of the film just walk its protagonists through the motions of grieving without providing the spectator with a stronger connection to them or a compelling reason to advocate for them to use the machine and kill the person who caused their misery.
The pacing meanders through the first act and into the middle of what could have been a good slow burn with a sharper screenplay. Thankfully, the picture picks up in the third act, when the main trio’s actions begin to spin out of control, causing them to inadvertently damage their own lives beyond repair in order to better the lives of others.
Aporia examines the genre by analysing the ripple effects of our shared experiences, rather than true time travel or the conventional visual features of science fiction. After Sophie receives Mal, she recalls the 8 months he was dead, even if everyone else who wasn’t in the room where she and Jabir used the machine remembers it as if he never died. Now that they know how the machine works, they must decide whether to continue using it to carry out vigilante justice and protect innocent people from imagined evil.
However, humans are not that straightforward. Beyond the trio’s noble intentions, the butterfly effect of removing someone’s life impacts the world in unimaginable ways. Each time they use the machine, their memories remain intact, despite the fact that they have transformed the lives of countless individuals around them. Aporia teaches a twin lesson about the implications of taking a life as well as the realisation of how much our everyday actions affect the world around us.
While we won’t reveal the third act twist, Sophie and Mal eventually find themselves in a chronology they don’t recognise, and one in which they most certainly do not belong. Aporia demonstrates that existence is nearly completely made up of shared experiences, and the solitude of finding yourself in a world without such ties may be soul-crushing. The film concludes with a relatively obvious ending that does not resolve all of the questions raised. That open-ended feature certainly works in Aporia’s favour because the audience is free to fill in the blanks for a happy conclusion if they so choose, or to explore the near-endless possibilities for the world in which Sophie ends up.
What matters most about Aporia’s finale is that whatever the world looks like in the timeline Sophie finds herself in is the one she recognises. Death and sadness are unavoidable parts of life, no matter how many steps we attempt to prevent or avoid them. Sophie realises that no matter how many people she rescues or how much vigilante justice she, Mal, and Jabir dish out if they don’t recognise the life they’ve made, they have no purpose in that new world. What the picture lacks in scripting, it more than makes up for in chemistry between the leads, a thought-provoking message, and Greer’s powerful anchoring performance.