At the blinding sunset, the extreme point of a crumbling Côte d’Azur, which closed Sophia Antipolis (2018) responds to the obscurity of Sapphire Crystal (just crowned with the Grand Prix of the Pantin festival). This quick study of manners examines the nocturnal habits of a handful of young Genevans who are fond of “partying”. If it is constantly praised in the speeches of the band, it is very little given to feel, since what interests Vernier in the first place, it is precisely this word by which they are crossed and which locates them, consciously or at their body defending. Always with this ambiguous staging process, where the protagonists replay in front of the camera the version of themselves that interests the filmmaker, Virgil Vernier deepens his obsession with attitudes, postures, masks and class choreography: at the ultra-rich of Geneva, a false commuter talk for some (“Wesh!”), a tone of tone for the most distinguished, a little air returned from all contradiction by naive flights on social success. From the glaucous decor of their favorite nightclub to the no less glaucous villa of one of them, champagne, souvenirs flow (“I remember … The swimming pool in Saint-Tropez”) and a certain weariness already, in those under 20 years of age, buried in the parents’ deep sofa.
We can regret that the film is too expeditious to really draw characters and confront them with something bigger and older than them (in Orléans, in 2012, the figure of Joan of Arc; in Mercurials, in 2014, Slavic mythology), and when we see four Calvinist statues at the corner of a street, symbols of Swiss rigor, confronted with the mismanagement of teenagers, the film already ends. Nevertheless it emerges from this Sapphire Crystal a very particular cellar fragrance, which confirms Vernier both as an ultra-contemporary filmmaker and as an archaeologist who has returned from the future to unearth the already cold vestiges of our world. What makes the film very melancholic is that from this excavation it returns with the jewels that are both the most sparkling and the most hollow. Under the dust of the rhinestones, silence and darkness.
Sapphire Crystal of Virgil Vernier with Edward Klein, Inès Thurre, Lou Cohen… 31 min. In theaters, VOD and DVD.