Paradise is a German Netflix sci-fi thriller film that takes place in the near future, where time has become a currency and people can sell their age in exchange for money. The film follows protagonist Max Toma, who is an agent at the biotech company that makes this transfer of age possible, until his own wife Elena is forcefully made to give up her age. Overall, Paradise is an entertaining thriller with a satisfying plot that makes for an interesting watch.
‘Paradise’ Plot Summary: What is the Film about?
Paradise aptly begins with an advertisement that sets the premise of the world—a biotech company in Germany named Aeon has come up with a groundbreaking medical procedure that can take away time from one’s life and transfer it to a matching recipient’s body. With this procedure, people in utmost need of money are able to sell their age to varying degrees, which immediately increases their age much more than normal. This time, which is stored by Aeon, is then quickly given to a matching recipient, whose age gets reduced, and their youth is restored. Only people desperate enough, either for education or to improve their living conditions, agree to this procedure in exchange for a hefty fee. Aeon themselves admit that those who have nothing else to sell but their time are the ones making use of the procedure. This world of the near future also has high numbers of migrants and asylum seekers, many of whom have to sell their time and age to earn a living. On the other side, eminent people like scholars, artists, and celebrities are honored this time, with Nobel laureates also recently added to the list of Aeon’s recipients.
In such a world, the protagonist, Max Toma, is a donation manager for Aeon who goes around convincing people to sell their age, and we see him at work. Stressing how he himself had sold five years of his life in order to afford a college education, Max convinces a migrant family that their teenage son would greatly benefit from selling fifteen years of his life. Max secures the deal and is soon awarded by Aeon for being the best agent of the year. Even though many have been using the science made possible by Aeon, a group of individuals still preach against it and try to make people realize how Aeon is increasing social and economic disparity in society. Calling themselves the Adam group, these people carry out violent attacks on Aeon’s recipients and are termed a violent organization.
Amidst such a scenario, Max defends his employers and sees the benefits of the age transfer procedure until an accidental fire destroys his lavish apartment. As he and his wife Elena had not been able to afford such an apartment, they had procured it in debt and were now forced to pay the entire remaining amount. Unbeknownst to Max, one of the terms of the debt contract is that the bank can charge the couple forty years of their age if they are unable to clear the monetary debt.
What actually caused the apartment fire?
The fire in their apartment comes as a shock for Max and Elena, who had been dreaming of starting their own family by having babies. Although Elena’s father, an old-school critic of new-age technologies, was not very convinced by Max’s role as a husband and father, Elena was ready to pick her husband’s side. After returning from one such visit to Elena’s parents, the couple finds their apartment burned down. Although they are initially hopeful that the insurance company will cover the expense, the reason for the fire is claimed to be a negligent candle left burning by Elena, and the insurance company, therefore, refuses any compensation. Since they still owed money for the bank loan taken for the apartment, Max and Elena had to come up with the money all of a sudden. Max does have a direct word with Aeon’s CEO, Sophie Theissen, asking for an immediate loan that will be paid back with extra hard work at the company, but this does not help either. In this regard, Aeon offers only a slight promotion to Max, which surely increases his salary but does not, in any way, solve his requirement for the large sum needed immediately.
Elena, too, is unable to come up with the money because of the fact that she works as a doctor in a community hospital. In a world that is seemingly much more dependent on and favorable towards big corporations, working at a community hospital is like working for charity. It was mainly based on Max’s earnings that the couple had bought the apartment and had hoped to pay back the loan sometime in the future. As they are ultimately unable to pay back the loan amount, Elena is arrested by the authorities and taken to the Aeon facility, where she is operated on. Time from her life is taken away, and the exact period to be taken, determined by the authorities, is thirty-eight years. Within a couple of days, the surgery has an effect on Elena’s body, increasing her age by thirty-eight years and making her an elderly woman. This operation is considered a repayment of the loan, and the financial matter is settled, sadly, in exchange for the woman’s age.
Before this twisted resettlement, Max had pleaded to donate his time instead, but this was denied as the authorities stated that there were no compatible recipients for Max. The man confusedly stated that he had once donated his years, meaning there was surely someone compatible with his time, but then it was revealed that the recipient had only recently died. It is this matter and the fact that Elena continually kept claiming that she did not leave any candles lit in their apartment that made the whole fire accident look rather suspicious. Indeed, towards the latter half of Paradise, it is revealed that there was most definitely a different conspiracy in the works with regard to the apartment fire accident.
The CEO of Aeon, Sophie Theissen, had been looking for an age donor for her personal use, meaning that she was looking for someone compatible with her own body. Sophie told everyone that the reason for her search was that she wanted to further research the process of age donation so that she could make it affordable and accessible to everyone in the world. But in order to do so, Sophie had to live long enough and, therefore, had to receive time from someone compatible with her. Aeon had actually found someone compatible with Sophie some years ago, and this woman happened to be Elena. The company had sent their best donation manager, Max Toma, to convince Elena, but instead, the two fell in love with each other and eventually got married. Even though Elena did not donate her age and Aeon had seemingly lost their chance, Sophie Theissen had not given up.
The whole fire accident was actually a setup to make Elena give up her time so that Sophie could receive it and increase her life’s duration. Being Max’s employer, Aeon knew everything about Max’s financial situation and his ambitions for a better lifestyle. It was the company that had included the term of forced age transfer in the bank loan contract and then waited to carry out its secret plan. The only recipient compatible with Max had recently died in a bike accident, making it almost certain that Aeon had actually gotten him killed. This ensured that Max would not be able to donate his time, despite being willing to, and therefore, it would have to be Elena who would need to get the surgery done in case something went wrong. The fire, also, was most definitely caused by Aeon themselves, and it was most possibly Sophie’s trusted security agent, Kaya, who had broken into the apartment and set the place on fire. This, finally, ensured that Sophie Theissen would receive the time she needed to elongate her life. When Max once again tries to ask Sophie for any help after the operation on Elena has been conducted, he is almost shocked to realize that the woman looks much younger than her usual self. This confirms to Max that his wife’s time has been donated to Sophie Theissen herself.
Who does Max kidnap in order to save his wife?
Following the forceful age transplant, the relationship between Max and Elena terribly soured, owing to her inability to accept her sudden aging. Although Max tries to comfort and support her, his words do indeed seem quite pitiful. As Elena refuses to be with Max anymore, the man desperately tries to look for a way to reverse the effects of Elena’s surgery. He comes across a very young girl smoking and selling drugs and immediately realizes that she has somehow gotten a reverse age transplant done. From this contact, Max learns of an underground group that has been performing such age-transplant surgeries in the neighboring country of Lithuania. Although such operations are legally carried out only by Aeon, this group has learned how to do them and has been performing them in order to earn illegal profits.
Max is told that he needs to get hold of the recipient who has been given Elena’s time, and he makes a plan to kidnap Sophie Theissen. Going over to the local graveyard in Berlin, Max finds Sophie alone at the place, without her guards, and kidnaps the woman. Although he sees that the woman is much younger than his boss initially was, Max is convinced that this is due to the age transplant, which is now showing its full effect. The young woman keeps claiming that she is actually Sophie’s daughter, Marie, but Max refuses to believe it. For some time, Paradise maintains a slight mystery as to who the woman actually is. Elena spots that she does not have any mark of the surgery on her body and starts to believe that she is indeed Marie, but then Max reminds her that the recipient of the transplant would not have any such mark owing to the rejuvenation of the skin. The young woman claims that she, too, is not very proud of her mother’s actions, but then she tries to escape Max and Elena.
Eventually, it is revealed that the young woman is indeed Sophie’s daughter, Marie Theissen and that she had nothing to do with the age transplant. Max and the world knew that Sophie had only one daughter, who had died due to progeria many years ago. In fact, this personal loss was what had made Sophie begin her research into age-transplantation, but she had hidden her younger daughter Marie from the world, possibly in order to keep her safe from her critics and opposers. Despite having mistakenly kidnapped the wrong woman, Max wants to go ahead with the transplant, claiming that taking away Marie’s time would reduce Elena’s age at least, and Marie can get her time back from Sophie.
However, this plan does not work well because of the introduction of the rebel faction, the Adam Group. The leader of this group, Lilith, had found out about Max and Elena’s secret travel to Lithuania, as the two had been announced as fugitives in German news. Lilith also obviously knew that they had kidnapped Marie Theissen, and so they now track down Max and Elena and take them hostage. Lilith wants Max to ensure a deal with Sophie Theissen, whom the Adam group members want to kidnap, and they set up an ambush accordingly. This miserably fails when Kaya realizes the plot, and an enormous gunfight ensues. Lilith is killed, Sophie is shot and wounded, and Max and Elena somehow manage to protect themselves and Marie.
‘Paradise’ Ending Explained: What Happens to Max, Elena, and Sophie?
The couple still has the opportunity to go meet the Lithuanian gang and get the reverse transplant done, and they escape the shootout to reach the secret meeting place. However, Max now has a sudden change of heart, suggesting that they should let Marie go because forcefully taking away her time would make him and Elena just like the evil corporations they are trying to fight against. On the other side, Elena, too, has a change of heart as she grows more determined to reverse her age and get back her youth. Max’s claims, that Marie cannot reverse her age since her mother is possibly dead, do not go well with Elena, and the woman now abandons her husband on their way. This truly marks the end—a rather sudden one—of Max and Elena’s relationship.
Elena reaches the secret meeting spot with Marie and ultimately gets an age-transplant successfully, since Marie had the same DNA structure as Sophie, and so she was compatible with Elena. After the procedure, Marie is allowed to leave and is found by a trucker, who takes her back to Sophie. Max walks his way to the nearest refugee camp in Lithuania and seems to realize that this illegal gang has also made age-transplantation a business just like Aeon. With this new knowledge and the realizations that he has had throughout the film, Max is convinced that he must stop this terrible procedure.
In Paradise‘s ending, Max Toma becomes the new leader of the Adam group and leads an attack on an Aeon office campus. After Elena’s successful age-transplant and return to youth, she finds love in a different man and is shown to be pregnant with his child. Sophie Theissen, however, has no change from her cruel and selfish manner, as she convinces her daughter Marie that she cannot give away her time to the daughter through a transplant, as Sophie still needs to conduct more research and therefore needs to be alive for a longer time.