Actor Rob Morrow makes an auspicious directorial debut with Starz!'s Maze,
which explores the challenges faced by someone with Tourette's Syndrome in developing a normal love life.
Morrow cast himself as the title character, Lucas Maze, an artist who pours his otherwise untapped passion out on canvas. Since he was a child, Maze has suffered from the mysterious malady, which causes uncontrollable tics and vocal outbursts. To combat the affliction, he's developed a simplistic coping mechanism: solitude.
His only outlet-other than his work-is a friendship with a doctor, Mark (Craig Sheffer), and through him, his girlfriend Callie (Academy Award nominee Laura Linney).
As the film begins, one is fearful that the director has also contracted the disease-of-the-week syndrome, common among producers of the late 1970s and early '80s. Maze pops his lips, jerks his head and flings paint in the air. He also pulls some obsessive-compulsive tendencies out of the actor's toy box.
Occasionally, the point of view shifts to wildly moving camera shots, demonstrating the bedlam that is Maze's perception of the world.
But the focus on these affectations-however unsteady-thankfully shifts. Maze is a whole, if flawed, human being. A few disastrous attempts at interaction are played out to demonstrate the sense of futility Maze feels at even trying to extend his circle of contacts.
The artist is forced out of his safety zone, however, when Mark suddenly announces he feels he would be "sacrificing himself " if he didn't dump urban medicine in favor of a place in Doctors Without Borders. This decision is made without the input or knowledge of his live-in girlfriend. Mark claims to love Callie, but seems to constantly chide her work in magazine publishing.
Callie gives him a love-me-or-leave-me ultimatum and Maze is left to provide solace when narcissistic Mark goes off to save the world.
This is when the film takes off. Mark left before he could find out that Callie is pregnant. She and Maze share different fears, then companionship and then, finally, love. The transition is filmed subtly and upliftingly. But then Mark returns, like the lion back from the hunt to reclaim his mate.well, let's not ruin it.
Morrow demonstrates deft craftsmanship, especially in the spare scenes with Maze's parents. In a very economical way, he presents the seminal events in the lead character's life upon which his hopelessness was built, and communicates his unforgiving father's immobility.
premieres April 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Starz!
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