Thursday, August 10, 2023

Aporia: Time Travel at its Grungiest and Most Heartfelt

Respect physicists. They can kill with equations. You just don’t see it happening, because of the “observer effect” (you’re not one of the observers). In this case, a gently mad scientist friend of Sophie Rice’s late husband created an uninspiring looking contraption that can put a nasty “equation” in someone’s head, back five years or so in the past, thereby killing them. Of course, she wants to use it to save her husband, but the ripple effects will be surprising in Jared Moshe’s Aporia, which opens tomorrow in New York.

Things have been bad for Rice since a drunk driver mowed down her husband Malcolm. Money has been tight, their daughter Riley has grown distant and lost ambition, while the wheels of justice have been insultingly slow to punish the loutish Darby Brinkley. Then Mal’s old physics buddy Jabir Karim drops his bombshell. The machine he soldered together with Malcolm can take out Darby before the accident happens. At first Rice doubts him. Then she presses the button.

Suddenly, Malcolm is back and Riley has returned to her high academic achieving form. Only Rice and Karim have miserable memories of the last few months, because of the observer effect. Of course, Rice should quite while she is ahead, but she also remembers seeing Darby’s estranged wife Kara looking distressed by his drunken behavior. When she tries to check on her, she finds the woman and her daughter Aggie have been evicted and face ruinous medical bills. At first, she enlists Jabir and her now in-the-know husband to help them conventionally, but Jabir is itching to apply his machine to the problem.

is the best kind of science fiction—the kind that does not depend on special effects, because it is driven by ideas and characters. Frankly, the story of Aporia would not look right in 3D IMAX. It is a grungy tale of grief and desperation that could be happening in your neighbor’s garage.

It is shame that all the proper critics and guilds ignore low budget sf (and barely pay attention when it comes from the likes of Nolan and Cameron), because Greer gives an awards-worthy performance as Rice. She is not playing a time traveler. She becomes a woman grieving her husband, as viewers can acutely feel throughout the first act. She also has solid chemistry with Edi Gathegi’s Malcolm Rice, which justifies all that anguish.

American-born Iranian actor Peyman Maadi (or Moaadi), still best known for
A Separation, is terrific as Karim. There is an odd, slightly eccentric dimension to the character, unlike any of his previous roles, but his performance always feels totally natural and unexaggerated.

This is a thoughtful and emotionally resonate film that deserves much more attention. Unfortunately, most of the big science fiction sites largely operate as announcement boards for the blockbuster franchises. They might miss out on it, but you should not. Highly recommended for time travel fans,
Aporia opens Friday night (8/11) at the AMC Empire.