From: The Australian Associated Press (AAP)

American critics have lavishly praised Australian Cate Blanchett for her versatile and convincing acting, and say she shines in her new film Bandits which opened in the US.

Sandwiched between Hollywood heart-throbs Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, Blanchett plays a crazed American housewife who joins a pair of bank robbers on a crime spree.

Critics say the versatile Blanchett, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Elizabeth in 1999, has delivered another scene- stealing performance.

“One of the most consistently convincing of actresses, Blanchett has chameleon-like abilities that can’t help but raise a film’s level by creating a challenge everyone has to rise to or look second rate,” wrote Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times.

The Chicago Tribune described her as “formidably talented” and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said “Blanchett gives a delicious performance”.

Blanchett was recommended for the Bandits role by Pushing Tin co-star Thornton, who also wrote the screenplay for her last movie, The Gift. “It’s a tricky role, but I knew she could do anything,” Thornton said during a promotional tour for Bandits.

“As an actress, she can make you believe anything. The idea of being in another movie with her made the actor in me feel like I would have no boundaries where my character was concerned.”

Blanchett has parts in four more films scheduled for release before the end of the year including the epic Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Shipping News – a highly touted Oscar contender with Kevin Spacey. Critics are saying Blanchett has yet to find a role she can’t play. “This Australian actress, who can play anything from an English queen to white trash, is an asset to any movie,” observed Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.