(Andrew Davis, USA, 2003)


Some films are lumbering contraptions. Holes, adapted by Louis Sachar from his popular novel for kids, is an awful grind.

In the story’s present tense, a group of children headed up by Stanley (Shia LaBeouf) is put to work digging holes in the quasi-fascist Camp Green Lake. The Warden (Sigourney Weaver) and her cronies are the kind of overblown, cartoon-like characters found only in literature for children.

The entire conceit of this film rests on its backstory – wherein we discover the origin of a curse that has long bedevilled Stanley’s family. Every time we flash back to this parallel narrative – which itself splits into two time frames – the movie crawls at a snail’s pace and the overall energy of the piece diminishes to zero.

By the time all the stories had finally played themselves out and been tied up in a neat, feel-good knot, I was ready to scream. The worst part of proceedings is a bloodless Western starring Patricia Arquette as the noble bandit Kissin’ Kate.

This is a sanctimonious film full of banal messages about the need to respect indigenous peoples, to hold families together, to know yourself, and so on. Director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, 1993) has made some fine movies, but this is not one of them.

MORE Davis: A Perfect Murder

© Adrian Martin October 2003

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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