Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Eric (Ben Lambert) is preparing for his first day in a new job. To make it worse, it's a supply job – as a teacher in a secondary school – notoriously difficult territory for a shy man not quite old enough to be taken seriously as an authority figure. We see him up before his alarm goes off, sitting on his bed psyching himself up. In his car, he puts music on, tries to relax. He coughs, he glances around himself. All he has to do is get through this day and then it'll all be okay, won't it?

The rug is about to be pulled from beneath both Eric and the audience.

Supply is one of those films that's difficult to talk about because so much depends on how it twists, but its great strength is that even when this happens it maintains the same perfectly observed tone. There's dark comedy as other teachers try to cheer Eric up, not realising how much more nervous they're making him. Lambert is an appealing lead, with a fragility about him that viewers will empathise with. The way the kids look at him as the enters their territory is at once realistic and distinctly discomfiting. Boys look ready for an altercation, girls for equally dangerous flirtation or devastating scorn. Behind it all lies the mundanity of the situation; even when the story shifts, the lighting and props and system-centred plotting retain that grim suburban comprehensive ethos.

Often the hardest decisions need to be made in the morning, the toughest actions taken in the middle of a busy day, and Supply knows this, its golden sunlight and leafy lanes offering no shelter. The darkness at the heart of the story will feel real to those who've worked in such environments even when it shifts gears. What marks the film out is its restraint, its willingness to communicate much of its story through allusion. We don't need to know all the details. We can't escape the point.

Reviewed on: 24 Mar 2013
Share this with others on...
A supply teacher is determined simply to survive his first day at a new school.

Director: Peter Coventry

Starring: Ben Lambert, Russell Barnett, Alec Gray, Cicely Tennant, Alicia Hager, Kenneth Hougham, David Boyes

Year: 2012

Runtime: 11 minutes

Country: UK


bootleg 2013

Search database: