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Paradise–Time is Money?

In Paradise, a  German dystopian sci-fi thriller,  Aeon has become a multi-billion dollar big-pharma conglomerate, founded by Olivia Theissen (Iris Berben) and her team of scientists. The biotech corporation has developed a revolutionary genetic tool that can  reverse the aging process and presumably delay death.  Donors of DNA, who are compatible with wealthy recipients, exchange  years of their lives for money–lots of it.    

Time is the  currency. And only the very rich can benefit from this age-defying technology.  In one of the opening scenes a vulnerable and poor young teenage immigrant is talked into giving up his  youth by Max (Kostja Ullmann) uber-salesman for Aeon, in order to pay for an immigration attorney who will acquire visas for his family.  Initially  Max is very pro-corporate and really believes he is an empathetic person, working to make other people’s lives better.  This is part of what makes Max a great salesperson who has brokered over 276 years of DNA exchanges, visiting refugees in camp and convincing them  to donate  five-to-ten years for the money to help their entire families emigrate. He is recognized as salesperson-of-the-year by  CEO Theissen. As far as Max is concerned, life is good and everyone benefits.  The immigrants may be paid the equivalent of one million dollars for an albeit shorter– but more comfortable– life they would otherwise never be able to have.

Due to unexpected misfortune,  Max and his beautiful wife, Elena, will no longer be able to have  the privileged life they have taken for granted: an elegant apartment, plans for having a child, a perfect emoji life.  After the couple’s personal crisis, which takes them to the edge of their own moral values, Max and his doctor-wife start to understand the perspective of the desperate. An activist group of rebels, ironically named Adam,  resorts to terrorism in order to obstruct Aeon’s juggernaut reach over the world.  

The Adam group’s mission begins to insinuate itself on Max, who now questions if rich people should truly be more valued than everyone else.  Aeon and others are convinced of their claim to justice, philanthropy, and compassion. Aeon, in essence, can pulverize everyone else’s dreams for their own gratification. 

Interesting from a psychological perspective, Paradise raises the same questions about class and family that “Parasite” does: a treatise on late-capitalist rot.   A kind of force-field is imparted, separating and fragmenting the extremely wealthy and powerful from everyone else, who is considered to be fungible and degradable.  

The finale, however,  is lacking what would have been a spectacular gut-punch of an ending of Shakespearean portions, the tragic mother-daughter relationship. Paradise’s ending is too neat and leaves nothing ambiguous. The terrifying  viewpoint of Paradise  should have been that chaos is at our doorstep. In spite of a weak ending, Paradise is worth watching.

Availability: Netflix streaming

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