Fantasia 2023 Review: APORIA Is Not Your Typical Time Traveller

Contributing Writer; Toronto, Canada (@triflic)
Fantasia 2023 Review: APORIA Is Not Your Typical Time Traveller
Jared Moshé’s latest film, Aporia, is a fascinating paradox: A time travel story where the characters do not time travel. It is a sober, and quite emotional ‘what if’ and ‘if then’ take on parenting. The psychological cause and effect of decision making that is grounded in a rare, yet superb, leading performance from ubitquitous character actor Judy Greer. The plot presents one of those ethics/physics thought experiments, whether you could or would blow up your current universe for the chance to alter a terrible mistake in the past. The heart of the film, however, is in a different, and far more subtle human space — how our world is really the attitude we bring to it.
Sophie (Greer) is a single mom trying to raise her daughter, Riley, in the midst of a tragedy. Less than a year earlier, her husband Mal was killed by a drunk driver. Life is a mess for both of them. Acutely challenging for Sophie, however, is that Riley’s relationship with her father was much a more invested one, and the two of them struggle to cope with their newfound reality, where neither of them know what to do. They are failing. At her birthday party, early in the the movie, Riley refuses to engage with the other kids, and casually, perhaps cruelly as tween children can, dresses down her mother in public while tossing bowling balls down the alley, not paying any attention of whether or not pins they strike. 
It is an interesting metaphor, one that is echoed shortly after, when one of Mal’s physicist friends introduces her to the secret experiment they were working on before Mal’s accident. Looking like a cross between a beefy tractor engine and the wires-in-all-directions box in Primer (the type of smart indie genre film that Aporia owes some debt to), the living room filling device was originally intended to be a time machine. It did not work out exactly as planned. Or, as David Bowie, as Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige aptly pointed out, “Exact science, Mr Angier, is not an exact science.”
Either way, what the machine can actually do, is to excite a tiny bit of space-time. If that happens to coincide with a very specific time and point in space, for instance, inside someone’s brain, it could kill them — in the past. Essentially, it is a quantum gun, or bowling ball, if you know how to aim it at the right pin.
Does Sophie, in her miserable and tenuous existence, want the opportunity to kill the drunk driver before he collides with Mal? Without a hint of hesitation she does, and this kicks of a series of events that I will not spoil here. Like any time travel movie worth its salt, it revisits different versions, elaborated or reduced, of events with the perspective of the original observer. Only here, Moshé’s focus is not on watching a character from the past (or future) skulk about in the background attempting to alter and restore their ‘proper’ timeline.
Rather the film shows how a freshly changed attitude (be it wonderful joy or horrific panic) colours Sophie’s social connections, and determines how she, and those around her, continue. There is some some discussion around ethics and science jargon around relative observers and determinism, more to help the audience get to where they need to be. Thankfully, the film is better at showing over telling. Look for few clean and novel cuts at key moments of the film. A quantum edit of sorts. It is elegant and spare. It feels fresh. 
In some ways (admittedly, perhaps, only in my own mind) Aporia recalls the tense domestic implosion of the Coen brother’s A Serious Man, where the lead character is dwarfed by a chalkboard of physics equations with an unseen a number of tornadoes brewing outside. Albeit its visual style is less flamboyant, more of an indie-mumblecore vibe. The panic of parenthood, those awful mistakes that cannot be unmade, are well considered here in the package of a whip-smart genre film.
Aporia removes the usual giddy audience fun out of messing with time travel, but it replaces it a lot of heart, and plenty to think about: What pins we can knock down, right here, in the present.  


  • Jared Moshe
  • Jared Moshe
  • Edi Gathegi
  • Judy Greer
  • Payman Maadi
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AporiaDramaEdi GathegiFaithe HermanFantasiaJared MoshéJudy GreerPayman MaadiScience FictionJared MosheSci-Fi

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