A wealthy family comes home from vacation to find their home has been broken into. Nothing has been stolen, but the furniture is stacked in the center of the room, a collection of porcelain figures is in the toilet, and the stereo is in the freezer. A note is left, stating: "Your days of plenty are numbered." It is signed The Edukators.
Jule Julia Jentsch
is a young activist. She goes around telling people about the working conditions of sweatshops. She returns to her apartment only to be given an eviction notice. Jan Daniel Brühl
is a young man. He is riding the trolley when he overhears an elderly homeless man who is being ridiculed. He hands the man his ticket and gets off. Jule is dating Peter Stipe Erceg
, Jans roommate. Jule is suspicious of Jan and finds him strange, voicing her concerns after a scene where he causes a racket in another room while Jule and Peter are having sex. Peter assures her that Jan is a good guy.
Peter offers to take Jule with him on a trip to Barcelona. Though she does not have the money, Peter offers to pay her expenses, and so she initially agrees.
Jan and Peter go out on what they claim is their job, putting up posters. On the way they discuss the importance of the difference between what they do and petty theft. Jan argues that stealing things just betrays their cause, while Peter is more laid-back and laments that they could have sold an expensive Rolex watch for good money after Jan throws it out of their van's window. Afterwards, we see Jule working in a high-class restaurant where she is treated like a servant; she keys one of the expensive customers' cars in frustration after being treated like dirt by them.
The next morning Jule receives a call stating she clear out of her apartment immediately and clean it up including paint the walls. This means that she cannot go on holiday with Peter; he offers to stay, but Jule doesn't want him to waste his opportunity, so he recruits Jan to help. Jule and Jan paint side-by-side in awkward silence. Eventually, Jule turns some music on and they bond over their common interest in the same musician. Jule tells Jan of her financial trouble due to an automobile accident she was in last year with an executive driving a Mercedes. Now she must repay the man the cost to buy his new Mercedes - she is nearly 100,000 euros in debt. Jan sees this as unjust and volunteers to help Jule handle the problem.
Jan invites her over for dinner and they talk about fear and using it as a drug to do things you never thought possible. Jules goes home and Jan stakes out a house and almost gets caught by the police. The next day Jan helps Jule hang wallpaper. Angry at the injustices they have suffered, Julia decides to forfeit the rental deposit by letting out some pent-up frustration; they end up wrapping Jule in wallpaper and painting "Every heart is a revolutionary cell" onto the wall in red. Jan takes several photos of Jule standing in front of the defaced wall.
That night at work, Jule is caught smoking in the kitchen with the bartender. He is fired and Jule tries cover up for him and is fired as well. Jan and Jule stand on a rooftop discussing the current state of revolution and how it has entered popular culture. To help with Jules pent-up aggression, Jan shares with her what he and Peter do at night. She recognizes the area and begs Jan to drive a few blocks down the street. They come upon a house and Jule jumps out to verify she is correct. It is the house of the man who owns the Mercedes she hit. She persuades Jan to break in, Edukator-style and he relents only if the alarm company that Peter used to work for guards the house. Lucky for Jule it is. They break in and begin to move around furniture. Eventually, at Jule's request, they decide to throw the couch into the pool. As they carry it, Jules takes off her coat. When the throw the couch into the pool, Jan falls in. He pulls Jule in and she discovers he has the pictures from the wallpaper day in his jacket. They kiss in the pool.
Jan goes to the bathroom to process what has happened and Jule goes to get some alcohol, throwing several expensive bottles onto the ground before finding something she likes. While Jule is standing on the terrace, floodlights turn on and Jule runs inside. Her and Jan gather their items and get away before the police show up. The next morning Peter comes home. Jule comes over and tells Jan she lost her phone. Jan tells her not to mention this to Peter, then runs to the car to look for it without result. He concludes she must indeed have left it at the house.
That night Jan, Peter, and Jule go out partying. On the way home, Jule goes her separate way and Jan says he is going to go for a walk while Peter goes to bed. Jan and Jule return to the house looking for the phone and wiping fingerprints. Just as Jule finds her phone the owner, Hardenberg Burghart Klaußner
, comes home. He comes in and recognizes Jule as the girl from the accident. They scuffle and Jan comes out and hits Hardenberg on the head. He is knocked unconscious. Jan and Jule freak out: Jan has Jule call Peter to help them out. They tie up Hardenberg. The three discuss a plan.
Meanwhile Hardenberg has grabbed a phone and is calling the police. Left without any other options, they grab Hardenberg and throw him in their car and drive away before the police show up. They arrive on a dirt road in the woods, where they walk to a cabin belonging to Jule's uncle. The following morning they continue their discussion on what to do. Peter goes to the local village to stock up on supplies. Hardenberg asks them their motives for kidnapping him. He and Jan go back on forth arguing about capitalism. Peter storms off and the relationship between Jan and Jule is growing.
That night at dinner, Hardenberg shares how he was once a revolutionary like them. Hardenberg warns them he must call the housekeeper so that she will not go in the house and find the mess. They decide to drive him into town but Peter will hold a gun to him in case he decides to run off. (In private, Peter reveals to Jan that it is a broken gas pistol, unable to do any harm.) Jan volunteers to be the one to take him along with the gun. That night Peter finds the picture of Jule in Jan's jacket.
The next day, they all drive into the village to use the pay phone. Jan takes Hardenberg to the phone. He tells his housekeeper not to come and when a tourist approaches the duo, Hardenberg lies and calls Jan his son, who feels isolated without using the phone. Jan, Jule, and Peter are surprised by Hardenberg's cooperation.
Back at the cabin, Hardenberg and Jan talk about how he changed from a revolutionary in the 1970's to a businessman today. Peter begins to notice the growing relationship between Jan and Jule. At dinner that night, Hardenberg mentions their free love and how he used to live that way. Peter seems confused. The next morning Jan and Jule go out to buy some more supplies. Along the way they stop and succumb to their feelings for each other. While they are gone, Hardenberg appears to have escaped, but Peter eventually finds him a short distance away from the Cabin, staring off into the distance. Hardenberg explains how he's tired of his rich yet empty lifestyle and has considered giving it all up and moving to the countryside. He also tells Peter of Jan and Jule's relationship. Upon their return, Peter confronts them and leaves in a rage after he and Jan fight; he drives away, leaving behind only the broken gun for Jan. He goes out on a night of drinking, only to return the next morning.
They decide that it was wrong to kidnap Hardenberg, as they did it only to save themselves and not for any lofty ideals. Thus they agree to take Hardenberg home. Peter and Jan make up as well. The trio drives Hardenberg back to his home. There, he releases Jule of her debt to him and promises not to call the police. Jan is ready to give up the Edukators life, but Peter persuades him not to.
Hardenberg eventually changes his mind and calls the police. A special police commando shows up at Jan and Peter's apartment blasting down the doors; the audience is led to believe that Jan, Jule, and Peter are there, but they are not. All they find is a note on the wall reading, People Never Change. Instead Jan, Jule, and Peter are living in free love in Barcelona.