By Ken Tucker
Updated August 27, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

The eccentric thriller of the week is The Wrong Man, a surpassingly goofy melodrama starring John Lithgow (Cliffhanger) and Rosanna Arquette (Desperately Seeking Susan) as a squabbling, down-on-their-luck Southern couple traveling through Mexico. There they pick up Sleeping WIth the Enemy‘s Kevin Anderson, playing a merchant seaman on the lam from Mexican police who have wrongly tagged him as a murderer. The film is directed by Jim McBride, who did the feature films The Big Easy (1986) and the American remake of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1983).

With The Wrong Man, McBride tries for some of the erotic cynicism he achieved in his earlier movies, but the plot is so wispy it evaporates quickly, as does Anderson’s awkward attempt to be a hard-boiled hero. We’re left with Lithgow (who glares and mugs and talks about how they live in an ”uncivilization”) and Arquette (who spends much of her time removing a succession of low-cut dresses). They claw and paw each other, as Anderson — and we — just gawk, stunned by the banality of their depravity. C+