Aporia (2023) Film Review from the 27th Annual Fantasia International Film Festival, a movie written and directed by Jared Moshe and starring Judy Greer, Edi Gathegi, Payman Maadi, Faithe Herman, Whitney Morgan Cox, Rachel Paulson, Veda Cienfuegos, Lisa Linke, Adam O’Byrne, Dionne Audain, Coel Mahal, Mann Alfonso, Elohim Nycalove and Jeffrey Sun.
Aporia is a bold experiment in film-making from writer/director Jared Moshe. Whereas time travel has often been the subject of big-budget movies, this time out, a film is working with pretty much a shoestring budget, yet it manages to create some believable tension in its very complicated science fiction plot. Judy Greer has often been one of Hollywood’s most reliable character actresses and turns in, perhaps, her strongest performance to date in this new picture which will have viewers in deep thought by the time the movie reaches its very moving climax.
Greer stars in the movie as Sophie, a woman whose husband has died which leaves her raising her young daughter, Riley (Faithe Herman) alone. She’s torn between staying at work and going to pick her daughter up at school who has gotten in trouble yet again. A drunk driver (Adam O’Byrne) could have died instead of Sophie’s husband and nobody would have missed him. So, through the power of possibly the lowest budgeted time machine featured in recent movies, Sophie’s husband, Mal (Edi Gathegi) returns to be with his true love and happiness is restored temporarily to the broken family unit we see at the start of the movie.
Payman Maadi portrays Jabir, the brains behind the time machine who is a good friend of Mal’s and Sophie’s. Maadi turns in an excellent performance in the movie creating a knowledgeable character who will soon know too well the consequences of changing the past. In returning Mal to life, Sophie finds happiness again but at the expense of other people’s suffering.
Mal and Sophie’s mutually satisfying connection brings them much joy as does raising their daughter together. However, as the romantic couple start to “play God” so to say with Jabir’s assistance, all hell breaks loose. Yes, they seem to successfully help a character called Aggie (Veda Cienfuegos) but, soon, their child is completely different as a result. Their child changes in ways that are very disturbing and Sophie can only tell her past through photos not through memories.
Greer has scenes in this movie which are just as good as Toni Collette’s work in The Sixth Sense. Greer’s work in the new picture is full of heartfelt sincerity. Watch a scene where she realizes she cannot accept the fact that her daughter’s life has been erased (even for the romantic love she has for Mal) as Sophie remembers all the events which shaped her past. Greer is in top form here. She has tearful moments as well as sequences where her character shows fierce determination and Greer nails the role. Gathegi more than holds his own beside her. His character fields questions about his own physical disability from a key character in the movie while maintaining a positive outlook throughout. Gathegi and Greer also have a fair share of romantic chemistry on screen as well.
Payman Maadi is quite effective as the one who must deal with the consequences of his own creation. Maadi delivers a capable performance in a movie full of thought-provoking moments. What would one do if one could change the past but certain tweaks got made that were not in sync with the expected results? Is changing the future (or the past) moral and just? In certain cases, it is but, in others, not so much. Human sacrifice is a large focus of the topics that Aporia addresses head on.
Aporia is not a perfect film by any measure. It takes some big risks and doesn’t always feel like it plays fair. By changing certain elements of the past in the future, characters get rude awakenings but anybody who goes back to change the future would know such risks exist. Wouldn’t they? This movie focuses on the extent people would go to ensure happiness for the people around them. But is the cost worth the final results? The movie wisely lets the audience draw its own conclusions there.
Judy Greer’s performance is enough to recommend Aporia to viewers. The themes the movie showcases feel important and relevant. Greer carries much of the weight of the movie on her shoulders and does so in an admirable way. This film will certainly create interest in its director, Moshe, who deserves kudos just for the very fact that this film was made as gutsy as it was. By the film’s end, the audience will have been challenged and will learn to appreciate the things we can change as well as the things which we cannot. It’s a good movie.
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