Digital images, flat and blurry, captured with a jittery camera, frequently interrupt the smooth, more conventionally filmed narrative of "Maze," in the same way that the spasms of Tourette's syndrome interrupt the movements of those who live with the disorder. It's a remarkable visualization of Tourette's, shown through the eyes of Lyle Maze (Rob Morrow), a sculptor in Manhattan. The story's arc shows Lyle struggling with his condition and with his romantic feelings for his pregnant friend Callie (Laura Linney), whose boyfriend Mike (Craig Sheffer) just happens to be Lyle's best friend.
Lyle, a well-regarded artist about to mount his own gallery show, is a potentially fascinating character, and Morrow's depictions of his tics — like a full-body stutter, complete with hurled vocalizations — are appropriately jarring. Unfortunately, "Maze" gives much weight to the conventional love triangle at its center, with Callie and Mike too generically written to elicit much interest. (This despite fine performances, especially from the elegant Linney, who seems to be emerging as the new millennium's Meryl Streep.)
The screenplay, written by Morrow with Bradley White, is classically constructed, perhaps too much so: It presents the characters, develops conflict, leads to a dramatic emotional peak (including a heavy-handed childhood flashback) and then a happy conclusion, in a rather by-the-book way.
Morrow, in his feature directing debut, gives it all a quiet, gentle quality that's pleasant, but not always engaging. "Maze" shows promise as a first feature, particularly in its startling depiction of Tourette's and in some of its quieter moments (Linney, in a flat voice, imbues an answering-machine message with sad poignancy), but overall it feels a little too safe, a little too careful.
Moira Macdonald can be reached at 206-464-2725 or email@example.com.