August 11th, 2023
STARRING: JUDY GREER, EDI GATHEGI, PAYMAN MAADI
DIRECTED BY: JARED MOSHE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
The time travel movie is a tricky thing to get right. Not everyone can make Back to the Future or Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Even in the good ones, continuity can be tough to navigate, no matter how much we know the rules. Aporia is a time travel story, about love lost, and decisions made to mess with the past. As we have seen many times over, messing with the past can do damage to the future, and Aporia is saying nothing fresh nor inventive enough to be a time travel movie to go back for.
A positive point is that the lead is none other than Judy Greer. Her work in movies such as Halloween Kills, Jurassic World, and The Village is always good, but rarely does she get to step into a lead role. With Aporia she’s front and center, but sadly it’s a narrative where the scenario around her becomes more important than the performance. She plays Sophie, a single mother, who early on reveals that her husband Mal (Edi Gathegi) was tragically killed by a drunk driver. Since his passing, she has been struggling to get herself out of the haze and it’s been even harder to console her daughter Riley (Faithe Herman). It’s come to the point where Riley hates school and won’t engage with life. In an effort to change the past, Sophie bumps into Mal’s old friend Jabir (Payman Maadi), who at one point had worked with Mal to create a time machine that sends a bullet into the past and now he seems to have it working. He just needs a target and with most time machines, or any messing with the past, this can always lead to the destruction of the present.
From a narrative standpoint, Aporia has big ideas, both directed and written by Jared Moshe. The time machine itself looks like something picked up at a junkyard. When it comes to time travel stories or the navigation of time travel, it’s the how you get back part that needs to be dressed up. Not digging into the science of how it works, not using special effects to show off its power, and only pushing a button and saying, “It worked” results in a process too boring to approve. When the decision is made to tinker with time we immediately discover that Mal has returned. He’s alive as if nothing changed. But this comes at the price of Sophie deciding to kill the man that caused Mal’s death in the first place. And like the ripples in a pond, the consequences continue throughout.
It’s also incredibly infuriating because Sophie and company seem to never learn from every time-altering event. Soon Sophie is confused because her work shifts as a nurse has changed. We soon see that Riley has grown older. The location of a chair has moved and so on. There’s not an arrogance from the characters but it comes off as people who know better and make choices based on what the script tells them to do. The reality is that early on the use of the time machine should be stopped because the consequences will only get worse with each push of the button.
The acting parts of Aporia are all good. Greer is her typical self, drawing out deeper emotions than we might expect, and it is the emotional side that Moseh understands most. The reconnection of Sophie and Mal is genuine, but instead of making the story a complex look at bringing someone back to life, it has to contemplate the choices of time travel instead, something that has certainly been done before. Aporia has the dial spinning but it’s not the kind of movie you give up your time for.
APORIA IS NOW PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS FRIDAY AUGUST 18TH, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady