Aporia is the low-budget and high-concept science fiction with the most compelling ideas. The familiar question of what life would be like if something was different and changed our lives for the better. The messing of the timeline is easier to accept when one longs to spend more time with a loved one they lost. It’s also far more intriguing watching how the more intimate parts of life are at stake rather than the universe coming to an end.
The film centers on the crumbling life of single mother Sophie (Judy Greer). She struggles at work to deal with her 11-year-old daughter, who is becoming more distant from family and school. It’s made all the worse with her losing her husband, Mal (Edi Gathegi), to a car crash, where the killer still walks around without facing any prison time. Everything feels wrong, and her husband’s loss seems like the key piece missing.
A solution comes when a tinkering physicist and friend of Mal informs her of his latest project. He’s created a rickety time machine that acts less like a Jules Verne transportation device and more like a gun. The machine can send a concentrated attack anywhere back in time to kill one person. Thus, if they use it to kill the driver, Sophie could have her husband back.
The test run is a success. The driver is dead, Sophie’s husband is alive, and her daughter is far more chipper about her future. Everything seems good. But now what? Sophie, Mal, and the physicist soon realize how powerful the machine can be. Maybe they could use it to do more good in the world.
The epiphany of becoming a time assassin is not pursued without caution. Before jumping at the chance to choose another target, the three minds join to determine their intended actions. The moral questioning becomes more complicated when they get to know the family of the driver they killed. The driver’s daughter has MS, and her mother can’t pay the medical bills. Fearing the worst outcome, the threesome determines who could be targeted to avoid a dismal future for this girl. There’s success, but also timeline byproducts they did not account for.
Aporia plays with some familiar ethical quandaries of science fiction but approaches them emotionally and intelligently. These are all delicate and cautionary people who want to improve life but are constantly racking their brains about making the right move. When they succeed, there’s great joy and love in their lives. When they fail, there’s a deep distrust that broods within them. A film such as this could’ve quickly become bogged down in scrutinizing the specifics of the tech or placing the emotional drive on platitudes. Neither feels phone-in or like filler, making for a more complete sci-fi drama. Special credit is deserved for Greer, who goes through an onslaught of emotional states concerning using a time machine.
Aporia is a low-tech, low-budget, and high-concept science fiction that resonates well for its ethical questioning and domestic drama. It’s still fascinating to see a film like this use the most straightforward editing and framing to highlight a changing timeline and altered lives. Without the distracting bells and whistles of the genre, these types of films linger in the mind longer, making one question more and more whether you’d take the risk of reviving the dead. It’s easy to say you wouldn’t when looking at such bombastic movies on the topic, but it’s quite another thing when the choice is presented believably.