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Rob Morrow plays a painter with Tourette's in 'Maze'

Friday, November 16, 2001

By Barbara Vancheri Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Even within the safe confines of his apartment-artist's studio, Lyle Maze (Rob Morrow) finds his Tourette's syndrome can interfere with his work.


RATING: R for language and nudity.

STARRING: Rob Morrow, Laura Linney

DIRECTOR: Rob Morrow



When a tic almost doubles him over, he unwittingly spatters a nude model with paint -- first on her stomach and then in her eye. Their session is interrupted by a phone call from his mother about his seriously ailing father, who once punished Lyle for actions and words he could not control.

Although Lyle is a New York artist of some note and reputation, his Tourette's has led him to believe that being alone equals survival. "I think social interaction as a whole is overrated," he insists in "Maze," and when he goes on a date with an acquaintance, disaster ensues. Lyle thinks he can never have what his best friend, Mike (Craig Sheffer), has: a longtime girlfriend named Callie (Laura Linney).

But Mike, a physician, is driven by an altruistic sense of wanderlust. Unaware that Callie is pregnant, Mike heads off to Burundi. When Callie decides to have the child, Lyle becomes her confidant, labor coach and life line. But Lyle and Callie are drawn to each other in a surprising way that further complicates both of their lives.

The former "Northern Exposure" star developed the premise for "Maze" after seeing a documentary about people with Tourette's. "A lot of Tourette patients are reconciled to a life without love," he says in the press notes. "I think because I was about to get married myself, it got me thinking."

Linney, with hair dyed red here, exudes warmth and tolerance. Morrow, who sometimes wore a bodycam that lets us see the world through his eyes, gets us inside Lyle's head and skin.

The story, however, fails to adequately address Lyle's reluctance to try a new so-called miracle drug that might quiet his symptoms; he is scared it will interfere with his art. A vague reference is made to a previous "bad experience" with medication. If Lyle doesn't want to be symptom free, that's his right, but he's clearly pained by public outbursts or accidents that end in spilled wine, hasty exits and embarrassment.

"Maze," playing at the Denis, is directed with an accomplished hand by Morrow. But it stacks the deck and, like another movie about Tourette's called "The Tic Code," proves more fairy tale than anything else.

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