Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett – in Cannes for the red-carpet world premiere of her latest movie about a lesbian romance – has scotched media speculation that she has a real-life gay past.

Early reviews of Carol, set in New York in the 1950s and directed by American film-maker Todd Haynes, have been so glowing that the film is already generating Oscar buzz and is a leading contender for the top Cannes prize, the Palme d’Or.

Reviewers have heaped praise on Blanchett, 46, for her performance as a socialite who begins a relationship with a shopgirl played by Rooney Mara despite the personal and societal hazards that poses.

The Australian actress already has two acting Oscars under her belt for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine. US cinema industry magazine Variety described her as “incandescent” in the role, adding that the film had “supreme intelligence, breathtaking poise and film-making craft of the most sophisticated yet accessible order”.

Speaking to the press on Sunday ahead of the premiere, Blanchett found herself forced to deny that she had had any gay experiences herself.

“Have I had sexual relations with women? The answer is no,” Blanchett told reporters at a media conference.

The actress said speculation about possible gay episodes had sprung from an interview she had given to Variety.

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The publication had reported that it asked Blanchett whether she’d had “past relationships with women” and got the response:

“Yes. Many times.”

That triggered cascading speculation in other media that Blanchett had revealed past gay encounters.

Blanchett added that the part of the interview where she had stated she had had no “sexual relations with women” had been edited out of the article.

The actress added firmly that “in 2015, the answer (to that sort of question) shouldn’t matter”, noting that “in 70 countries around the world, homosexuality is still illegal”.

Despite some progress, she said, “we’re living in deeply conservative times”.

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Wearing an elegant black dress with a partly transparent top, the actress spoke lucidly and with some humour about the movie and her approach to it.

“The wonderful thing is that it has male and female perspectives – it’s not a niche experience,” she said.

A nude love scene generated some “apprehension” for her, but “no more so than in a love scene with a man”.

Reviewers have been nearly unanimous over director Haynes’s “masterful” restraint, which drew the audience along until the end, when a stately yet powerful climax brought tears to the eyes of even hardened film critics.

AAP

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