Paradise Ending, Explained: Does Elena Get Her Years Back?

Netflix’s ‘Paradise’ is a science fiction thriller movie set in the near future, where a biotech startup, AEON, has developed a surgical procedure that allows transferring years of life from one person to another. However, when Max, an AEON employee in a financially desperate situation, is forced to see his wife give away forty years of her life to repay their debt, he decides to turn on his employer. The ending of ‘Paradise’ deals with the aftermath of Max’s devastating confrontation with AEON and the truth about the downturn in his life. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Paradise Plot Synopsis

‘Paradise’ follows Max Toma, a donation manager who works for AEON, a corporation that has bioengineered a procedure to transfer lifespan from one person to another, provided their DNA proves to be a match. As a result, people in desperate need of money sell their time to those with money, resulting in an uneven society. Max works with potential donors and convinces them to accept the unfair deals created by AEON to take away their lifespans in exchange for money. However, Max claims to do his best for the donors and get them fair compensation.

Meanwhile, Sophie Theissen, the CEO of AEON, defends the groundbreaking but controversial procedure and announces to extend the lifespan of Nobel Laureates. However, Adam, a group of terrorists, protests and oppose AEON’s control and propagation of the procedure. One of the Adam members infiltrates the AEON facility and murders the Nobel Laureates as an act of retaliation against the corporation’s unfair practices. However, Sophie insists that her company must continue research to perfect the procedure until it can work without a perfect genetic match.

Elsewhere, Max lives with his wife, Elena, in a luxury apartment in Berlin. The couple plans to have children of their own after Max is chosen as the donation manager of the year. However, Elena’s father despises Max’s field of work and AEON. After Max and Elena return home from dinner with the latter’s parents, they find a fire has erupted in their apartment. The insurance company refuses to pay for the damages since the fire was caused due to the negligence of the owners. Moreover, Max and Elena’s life savings were burnt in the fire. The couple had bought the apartment on loan, and the bank now demands the full mortgage amount.

Elena leveraged her lifespan as a guarantee to have the loan approved. Moreover, the recipient to whom Max had denoted his lifespan is dead. As a result, Elena must give away nearly forty years of her life to repay the loan. Max is forced to watch as his wife’s years are taken away and she turns old. However, Max quickly deduces that Sophie, to whom he had turned for help, is the recipient of Elena’s lifespan. Therefore, Max decides to take away Elena’s years from Sophie by performing the procedure with the help of Dr. Berg, a black market operator who conducts the surgeries at cheap costs near the Lithuania border.

Paradise Ending: Does Elena Get Her Years Back?

After kidnapping the recipient of Elena’s lifespan, Max and Elena travel to Lithuania, hoping to have the procedure reversed. However, Max and Elena learn that the woman Max kidnapped is Sophie’s daughter, Marie. Initially, Max believes that Marie is lying, but it is quickly revealed that she did not undergo the procedure. However, Max insists that Marie will be an ideal genetic match for Elena since the former’s mother received the latter’s lifespan.

Eventually, the trio is tracked down by Lilith, the leader of Adam, who reveals that Elena is the sole genetic match for Sophie and that the AEON CEO had orchestrated the events leading to Elena undergoing the procedure. As a result, Elena and Max are shocked at AEON and Sophie’s betrayal. Lilith uses Max, Marie, and Elena to set a trap for Sophie, whose forces track the group and quickly deduce their location. Lilith forces Max to draw Sophie into the hotel under the guise of meeting her daughter. However, chaos ensues when Sophie’s bodyguard deduces the ruse.

In the aftermath of the gunfight, Sophie is seemingly killed, and Max and Elena escape with Marie. However, Max has a change of heart after his recent experience with Adam and wants to abandon the plan. On the other hand, Elena becomes convinced that she was wronged and is determined to get her years back. Ultimately, she travels to Dr. Berg and succeeds in undergoing the procedure. Elena regains her youth by taking away Marie’s lifespan. Thus, the film raises some poignant questions about the codification of time and lifespans, and the ending only reinforces the negative effect and moral implications of artificially transferring lifespans between two people.

What Happens to Max? Did Max and Elena Break Up?

The film’s final moments depict a newly rejuvenated young Elena walking by the beach. However, Max observes her from a distance as Elena meets her new lover. Thus, the final scenes imply that Max and Elena have parted ways after their relationship crumbled under the weight of the moral dilemmas posed by their actions. At the start, Max is convinced that the system has wronged him and Elena and is determined to do anything, even commit a crime, to reclaim Elena’s lost years.

However, the climax sees a shift in the couple’s dynamics, with Max deciding it is wrong to punish Marie for her mother’s errors and taking away her lifespan. On the other hand, Elena is determined to take away the years she was forced to give away under unjust laws and evil machinations. She no longer views the world in a grey shade and even goes as far as to end her relationship with Max to obtain her goal. Meanwhile, the final scene shows Max joining up with members of Adam in their fight against AEON. As someone who has been on the inside of the company and on the receiving end of its unjust actions, Max’s decision to oppose the corporation and its controversial procedure is an ideal ending (or a new beginning) for the character.

Is Sophie Dead? What Happens to Marie?

The movie’s final act sees Sophie admitting to manipulating the events leading up to Max and Elena’s downfall. However, she seemingly pays for her actions when she is shot and killed during the battle between her mercenaries and Adam’s terrorists. A prevailing plot thread of the film is Max and Elena debating whether it is right to take away Marie’s time to pay for her mother’s atrocities. In the end, Elena argues that Marie could always have Sophie’s lifespan transferred to her, clearing herself of the guilt of affecting Marie’s life in the same way Sophie affected hers. In the final moments, it is revealed that Sophie is still alive. She was wearing a bulletproof waist, which shielded her from the bullets.

Meanwhile, Marie is experiencing the effects of having forty years of her life stolen away from her. Marie expected her mother to fix the situation by sharing her own time, which had been taken away from Elena. However, Sophie refuses, seeing she is close to completing her research. As a result, Sophie has acted selfishly all along and never cared about the humanitarian grounds she claims to be conducting her research. Her older daughter’s death or Marie’s sudden ageism are mere excuses for Sophie to prolong her own life and further her capitalistic agenda. Hence, the ending strongly implies that Lilith and Adam are correct in opposing Sophie’s work. With Max on their side and Sophie’s bodyguard leaving her job, the fight between AEON and Adam is only getting started as the film’s credits roll.

Read More: Where Was Netflix’s Paradise Filmed?