The second I saw Judy Greer starring in Aporia at the Fantasia International Film Festival 2023, I knew I had to see it. This was long before I really knew what it was about. The synopsis leads you into an emotional drama and then ends with a twist when a time-bending machine is introduced. That last bit threw me, I must admit.
The story follows Sophie, played by Judy Greer (Archer, Lady of the Manor), after her husband is killed by a drunk driver. She is struggling through life as a widow and a mother to a young daughter, Riley, played by Faithe Herman (This is Us, Shazam!), who is also clearly suffering after the loss of her father, Mal, played by Edi Gathegi (X-Men: First Class, The Twilight Saga: New Moon). That is, until a physicist and friend of the family, Jabir, played by Payman Maadi, reveals his time machine that could change everything, but they don’t know at what cost.
Why is it that so many films involving time machines involve devices that have no business being functional, in places that make absolutely no sense, using technology that seems like it’s from the 1970s? Aporia might be affected by each of these issues, but once you get past it, the film manages to strike a chord with anyone who might be dealing with loss, especially if they’re a parent or spouse.
I am both a wife and mother, and I found myself relating to Sophie in her darkest moments but also her happiest. These are themes Aporia explores in great detail. Greer managed to play to the best parts of partnership and parenthood through loving gazes at her husband, proud glances at her daughter, and when looking back on fond memories.
“Aporia brought a lot more to the table than I expected, right down to an open ending that I was completely satisfied with.”
On the other hand, she also managed to convey sheer loneliness and emptiness when experiencing loss, heartbreak and fear. Judy Greer is not just meant for comedy. She is a fierce actor who can not only bring you to tears with laughter, but also sadness.
Greer was not the only star on screen. I would have thought the role of Mal would be particularly moving, but surprisingly, Jabir was the one who got to me. His story is one that would break anyone’s heart, but his willingness to care for others was the most endearing. I try to write my reviews with as few spoilers as possible. That being said, Jabir’s gift to Sophie and Mal was particularly kind as is, but once we realize what he gave up to make it happen, it will make your heart swell tenfold.
This is especially true in the last act when you find what each character is willing to risk or sacrifice to make something right. Jabir, Sophie, and Mal are faced with a choice that could risk everything, and they are all willing to take that leap in order to reset time without truly knowing what repercussions it may have. For Jabir, it could mean never coming to America. It could mean more time with his family. All that is for sure is that the outcome is unknown.
In this same scene, where most people would make choices selfishly, Sophie, time and time again, proves that she is more concerned with others than herself. After her anguish drove her to selfishly make the choices she did, we watch her grow as a woman, wife, mother, and friend when she tries bending time to help others. Originally this urge stemmed from guilt, but by the end, she realizes that even though she could suffer catastrophic loss, her choices have taken something for someone that can’t be replaced, and it needs to be rectified, no matter what.
Aporia truly masters the art of saying a thousand words without a sound. So many small moments between mother and child, husband and wife or friends are spent in dead silence. The tension between characters sometimes represented tough choices, shared pain or a fear of loss. The meaning behind these quiet moments was always loud and clear.
“Aporia truly masters the art of saying a thousand words without a sound.”
Time travel, or time-bending as it’s described, was also tackled in a way that was new to me. Often you hear about the ripple effect anything you do in the past will have on the future. In Aporia, rather than heading back in time, doing something and jumping back to the future, it was more like something that was programmed to happen. Aporia tackles the memory of that jump until the present, meaning anyone in the room will need to piece together the time in between those two moments.
The rest of the world goes on never knowing anything different, but whoever is in the room with the machine is missing the amount of time between the moment they changed and the present. For instance, Sophie worked in a different department of the hospital, with no idea why, but people in the present were able to fill her in on small changes that created that new timeline for her. Aporia writer and director Jared Moshe was able to tackle time bending in a way that felt more down-to-earth and approachable while tying it into some serious themes like grief, loss and love.
With a story involving time travel, I really didn’t expect to be as invested in Aporia as I was. Though not every detail always made sense (does it ever with time travel?), Aporia brought a lot more to the table than I expected, right down to an open ending that I was completely satisfied with. I walked away grateful for what I have, and I don’t think I can ask for much more than that out of a film.