"Two Lovers," starring Gwyneth Paltrow, was met warmly by critics. In interviews, Paltrow had expressed trepidation at returning to serious work after her second pregnancy.
Gwyneth Paltrow basked in praise Wednesday for her role in "Two Lovers", a drama in official competition at Cannes, saying she had feared that her baby break with Coldplay singer Chris Martin would end her career.
Nearly a decade after her 1999 Oscar for "Shakespeare in Love", Paltrow is back with two films, the superhero blockbuster "Iron Man" starring Robert Downey Jr and the low-budget "Two Lovers" with Joaquin Phoenix.
In the intervening years, Paltrow limited herself to cameos in big pictures and roles in a handful of arthouse films while she raised her two children by Martin, born in 2004 and 2006.
She said "Two Lovers," in which she plays a woman unhappily in love with a married man, was the right picture for her "comeback."
"Especially if you're a woman, and especially if you're not 25, Hollywood is pretty cut-throat and everybody's got a short memory and there's always somebody younger or hotter or prettier or whatever," she said.
"I was very realistic about the fact that there might not be any more room for me. I definitely knew that I had lost the place that I had when I kind of left. But I was hopeful that if I wanted to do good work, that maybe the right thing would find me because I really felt like I had something to say again."
The 35-year-old actress appeared on the Cannes red carpet on the same day as Angelina Jolie, who is now expecting twins with Paltrow's former fiancee Brad Pitt.
Rather than leading the kind of high-profile family life that Jolie and Pitt have pursued, Paltrow largely avoided the spotlight after her children Apple and Moses were born.
In "Two Lovers," by Cannes favourite James Gray, Phoenix plays the troubled son of a Jewish couple in Brooklyn who is struggling to decide between the woman he loves (Paltrow) and the woman who loves him (Vinessa Shaw).
Critics cheered Paltrow's portrayal of Michelle, a self-destructive single woman who becomes an irresistible temptation for Phoenix's character Leonard.
The Hollywood Reporter said Paltrow "positively glows as the radiant shiksa who dazzles" Leonard.
Movie industry bible Variety said that while Paltrow was no longer a box office draw, she "very accurately captures the sort of toxic catnip men often lose their heads over."
Paltrow said that despite her own charmed life, Michelle was one of the characters she identified with most in her career.
"When I read this script, I really, really connected (with her)," Paltrow said.
"I think we all make the mistake of kind of thinking people are the way we know them or the way we're used to seeing them, especially people like us who are in the public eye. The truth is, we all have a lot of layers."
"Two Lovers" is one of 22 films vying for Cannes' coveted Palme d'Or top prize, to be awarded Sunday.
Date created : 2008-05-22