Paradise: Hope is is Ulrich Seidl’s third movie from the trilogy Paradise, together with Love and Faith. Paradise: Hope tells the story of overweight 13-year-old Melanie and her first love, which happens to be her director of weight loss camp, a doctor at least 40 years older than her.
What is a very important aspect of this movie is the way the diet camp is presented. Siedl offers a very detailed look on this camp and its instructors. The program the children have to follow can most of the times be both humiliating and sadistic, with having hard training every day (no matter the weather conditions) and some sort of prison rules (including being allowed to use the cell-phone for only one hour and going to bed at 9.30 each night).
Still, the children here manage to become friends and enjoy themselves together. Melanie, the main character, especially becomes friends with Verena, her older and more experienced room-mate. Verena is also the one who encourages Melanie to act on her sexual impulses and go on with her passion for the doctor.
This relationship that develops between Melanie and the doctor is the one that makes the movie extremely controversial. It’s not clear from the beginning to the end if the doctor is also into it, or it’s just the girl’s imagination. Still there are scenes in the movie that also betray him. In the end, this relationship could be seen like a comparison between child and adult and how each of them see a loving relationship. The girl actually wants to be protected and cared about, rather than having a sexual relationship with this man.
Still, this is under discussion and remains to each of your interpretation.