History teacher Paul (Paul Giamatti) is screwed. During the Christmas holidays, he has to stay at a remote elite school as a supervisor of students who cannot go home. Paul has his hands full with Angus, a rebellious adolescent who heard from his mother at the last minute that they will not spend Christmas together. Paul and Angus move in with Mary, the school’s cook, for whom it is the first Christmas without – we are writing 1970 – her son killed in Vietnam.
Winter Break is Alexander Payne’s (Sideways, Nebraska) first film set in the past. Not only is the recreation of the 1970s sets formidable, Winter Break also technically looks like a film of that era, including signature zooms and image filters. Despite the uppercuts of dark humour, this is Payne’s warmest film. A Christmas classic in the making.