Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf) is the latest in a long line of Yelnatses who suffer from impossibly bad luck as the result of an old gypsy curse. While walking under a bridge one day, he is hit over the head by a falling pair of sneakers. After taking them home, he is arrested and wrongly convicted for stealing them from a charity auction. The judge sends him to Camp Green Lake, an institution for young offenders to “build character.” Green Lake turns out to be a bizarre forced labour camp, run by the cranky Mr Sir (Jon Voight) and a mysterious warden, where the kids are sent out into the desert to dig holes every day.
In parallel with Stanley’s story, another tale is being told: that of Kissin’ Kate Barlow (Patricia Arquette), a school teacher turned bandit from Green Lake as it was a hundred years ago. Hers is a tragic love story, and it gradually emerges that her history is wholly entwined with that of the Camp, and Stanley’s own family curse.
Right from the opening scenes, it’s clear that Holes is much more than simple kids’ film. The initial flashbacks are just a taste of the multi-layered story that is to follow, and when all the threads are tied together at the end, the only word that fits is “magical”. For an extraordinary modern fairytale, and a beautiful example of cinematic storytelling, look no further.