If the technology were available, I wouldn’t doubt that anybody would use time travel to go back and change things from the past – especially when an action could bring back a deceased loved one. In previous Sci-Fi films of that nature, like The Butterfly Effect or Back To The Future, there are always consequences in what course you take. For Sophie (Judy Greer), those are the ramifications she will soon have to consider in Aporia.
The past eight months of Sophie’s life have been some of her hardest. She lost her husband Malcolm (Edi Gathegi) to being killed by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run. The court battles with the man responsible, named Darby (Adam O’Byrne), have bared little fruit. She’s doing all she can, working long shifts as a hospice nurse, and her daughter Riley (Faithe Herman) seems to want absolutely nothing to do with her, school, or anything she and her father used to do together.
Sophie needs a lifeline, which comes from Malcolm’s best friend, Jabir (Payman Maadi). He, like Sophie, shared the need for retribution in a slightly different manner as an immigrant whose family died at the hands of a horrible dictator. For years, he and Malcolm worked on a machine reminiscent of a time machine inside his living room with one particular catch. When it’s activated, it sends particles at a specific time and space – as a result, it ends up killing someone.
Writer/director Jared Moshé doesn’t present Aporia as some big Interstellar-style story with tons of woosh dimensional travel effects. Instead, the film lends more to a grounded story, and the performances of its players further that along. Sophie doesn’t hesitate to use the tech to take Darby’s life for Malcolm to return. But other films that paint with a similar brush tackle these mortality theories upon seeking happiness for yourself. Even as it doesn’t seem the rules to such choices in Aporia are as clear as they should be.
When Jabir uses the machine, Sophie gets Malcolm back in a spring of jubilation. All seems well, but you also have to consider what was from Darby’s family in his abrupt absence. Now Sophie, Malcolm, and Jabir have to contend with this choice and the possible weight others carry serving as drywall to replace the holes in time. The deeper Aporia goes, the more Greer, Gathegi, and Maadi performances are needed to do the emotional work the story wants to grab out of the audience. You connect with Sophie’s character on the base level from Greer’s portrayal of a mother who wants stability back.
Many quiet moments of contemplation throughout the film provide some sustenance for these characters trying to figure out the challenging nature of these choices. It may be one too many, as you can deduce they are wrestling with these decisions. Aporia’s ending airs to the side of ambiguity, and there’s a scenario that is not as hard-hitting as the film intended to be. Given how the time travel theme is tackled, there’s a particular wrinkle in the rules that adds an extra check to the characters' choices.
It’s not so much changing the lives of others around you due to (what is basically murder), but what that does to your own memory on a two-front basis. This lesson has been stretched and examined throughout many science fiction cannons – sometimes, it’s better to leave the past the way it is. With Aporia, it at least provides a variation, giving you something to ponder as you go down its rabbit hole.