Fantasia Film Festival 2023 review: Aporia

Judy Greer in Aporia.
Judy Greer in Aporia. Pic credit: Well Go USA

Aporia is relatable in so many ways. We all wish we had a button to help us undo a tragedy.

The time travel genre is an easy go-to for sci-fi inspiration. The genre is endless, with every type of story one can hope to find. The new film Aporia takes another swim in the waters of time, but it does so with a unique approach.

Rather than moving back and forth through space and time, Aporia focuses on time manipulation.

The movie doesn’t ask, “What if we can go back?” but rather, “What if we can use time as a delete button?”

While Aporia may have familiar elements, it also offers moments of freshness through its simplicity.

Here is our review of the new film Aporia which appeared at the Fantasia Film Festival.

Grief, loss, and moving forward

The film Aporia, directed and written by Jared Moshe, follows the story of Sophie (Judy Greer), a widow facing numerous challenges. Sophie is grieving the loss of her husband, Mal (Edi Gathegi), and her daughter Riley (Faithe Herman) is emotionally distant. As a result, Sophie finds it difficult to keep everything together and muster the courage to move forward.

Mal was a victim of a drunk driver, forcing Sophie to become a single mother. And ever since, she falls asleep dreaming about waking up next to him again.

Before his death, Mal had a strong friendship with Jabir (Payman Maadi), a physicist that Sophie confides in. Jabir had also experienced tragedy in his past, as he lost his family before he moved to the United States. This traumatic event forced him to leave his home country.

After many conversations and seeing Sophie’s pain, Jabir reveals a machine he has secretly been developing. It’s a giant mess of a device, with wires, and circuit boards, all around a big chunk of metal. He keeps it in a spare room (which takes up the entire space) with various computers connecting to the bulky machine. Jabir explains to Sophie if the machine works, it can change time. By giving it instructions, Jabir says it can act as a bullet, killing someone in the past before bad things happen.

Judy Greer and Edi Gathegi in Aporia.
Judy Greer and Edi Gathegi in Aporia. Pic credit: Well Go USA

Sophie initially finds the idea absurd, but she becomes open to trying anything after a challenging period. However, the machine works in an unexpected manner.

At this moment, Aporia explores the concept of time in a way that may seem familiar. A captivating anime titled The Girl Who Leapt Through Time delves into the theme of causation. It specifically touches on the idea of achieving success or good fortune at the expense of others’ suffering. As a result, whenever the protagonist travels back in time to improve her life, it inadvertently worsens someone else’s.

Sophie and Jabir experience the same problem. There are always consequences whenever they use the machine to improve their lives or help someone else. Additionally, their attempts to fix any issues only seem to make things worse, even in the most minor ways.

If we must nitpick, the character Jabir and the intricacies of his machine could use some more clarity. Due to the minimalist approach used to depict the manipulation of time, the explanations for the machine and Jabir’s abilities are kept to a minimum. We understand that he is a physicist, but it takes a bit of logical deduction to accept that Jabir created a complex device from the confines of a spare bedroom.

Although the plot may seem familiar, the genuine and heartfelt acting enhances the experience. Judy Greer, an often overlooked actress, delivers a tender performance that carries the emotional weight of Aporia. Similarly, Edi Gathegi (X-Men: First Class) portrays Sophie’s husband, Mal, with a matching commanding performance. As an actor, Gathegi is demonstrating why he should be in more movies. The chemistry between Greer and Gathegi is heartbreaking (in a positive way), ultimately elevating Aporia above its common storyline.

Adding to the chemistry, director Jared Moshe is great here at conveying profound concepts on a low budget. Similar to Restore Point, Moshe employs small details to depict vast changes in the universe. Time and its quiet workings are seldom pondered upon. If a change were to occur, it would be subtle and instantaneous. The mundane would feel altered, but it would still seem routine. Aporia depicts this masterfully. For instance, when Jabir uses the machine, a girl’s ailment disappears, but something else changes. These differences are significant and minor enough to be effectively captured on camera.

Aporia is a familiar trip about time but a heartfelt one

The movie is relatable as grief is a universal experience, and we have all lost someone. Aporia is a sci-fi film that explores the theme of letting go and has a beautiful message of hope. Although some may find the ending challenging, it is a fitting end with many sentimental ideas to ponder.

Although Aporia has elements from other time travel movies, the story is wonderfully made with a lot of heart. Judy Greer and Edi Gathegi are the real heroes here. We care about their characters,’ and viewers will hope the cosmos of time and space cares about them too.

For more reviews, check out our reviews of River, Restore Point, and our capsule reviews of Femme and Insomniacs After School.

Aporia is now in theaters.

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