By Lana Mihailović

Is there a way to substitute real, organically formed relationships? This has become a popular topic in the past few years, with everything from the development of artificial intelligence to ideas like cat cafés. This is something one can think about watching THE PERFECT ORDER / SRULKOPILI SHEKVETA (2017), a film by Anna Sarukhanova and Katalina Bakradze, shown in the Competition Programme - Short Film section at this year's Sarajevo Film Festival.

The world of dark, autumnal colors is one of a girl called Mariam, who works at a café where people can order a companion – an employee puts on a badge and becomes someone's mother, brother, sister, childhood friend. It is a way for the customers to feel understood, in a world that constantly criticizes you, in the words of one of the clients. This café is set in a wallpaper-alike, natural environment, as an ironic background for the completely unnatural type of scenario that these people are participating in. The irony is enhanced by the casual way the waiter asks the question: “Would you like to order some berry tea with a childhood friend?”

Mariam is a quiet participant in her world, not completely accepting this practice, but also not rejecting it. When she meets Levan, a young man and an environmental activist, she seems to try forming a real relationship, yet she soon finds herself incapable of adapting to that real world. Considering this, the ending of the film did not leave me comfortable, since we did not spend enough time with Mariam and her inner life. It is not an obstacle in understanding the story the directors wanted to portray, but it is a missed opportunity since THE PERFECT ORDER has the potential of turning into a full-length portrait of our possible future.