Miss Lillian: More Than a President’s Mother (USA, 2021)

This semi-documentary revolves around Lillian Carter (1898-1983), the mother of the 39th President of the United States.

Born in 1898 in Georgia, Lillian Carter met Earl Carter and in 1923, the two married with James Earl “Jimmy” Carter being born the following year. We get a firsthand account of Lillian as she talks about her career as a nurse both at home and for the Peace Corps. She talks about her experiences with African Americans and how she befriended some and had hatred for the Ku Klux Klan. There are interviews with the now 97-year-old Jimmy Carter along with some of Lillian’s old friends who talk about their experiences and friendship with Lillian.

This documentary is actually part-documentary and part-one woman show. That’s right. You read that correctly. While there are sit down interviews with the likes of Jimmy Carter, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, family friends, former ABC news legend Sam Donaldson, and Tommy Lasorda, the film’s real highlight is the performance of Carol Swarbrick as the titular “Miss Lillian”.

Swarbrick does an amazing job in the role of Lillian Carter as she tells her views on major events in her and her family’s lives. What’s even more outstanding is the smooth editing, in which one minute we see Swarbrick talking about an important event from her perspective and follows right by a transition from someone being interviewed, most of the time being Jimmy. From her nursing days and her days in the Peace Corps gathering her attention to the inauguration of Jimmy Carter, which she almost didn’t make. There’s even a surprise that Miss Lillian reveals about her favorite baseball team and a gift she received that no one knew about until after her passing.

The funeral talk is a bit heartbreaking as we learn that weeks before her death, her daughter Ruth died as well. It even is more the shocking we see Lillian speaking literally behind her own tombstone.

Miss Lillian: More Than a President’s Mother is a celebration and tribute to someone who is considered by today’s standards, a Rockstar nurse and humanitarian. This part-documentary, part-one-woman show is just even more the fun to watch thanks to Carol Swarbrick’s performance in the titular role.

WFG RATING: A-

Random Media presents a CJS Productions/Hippo Productions film. Director: Vivian Winther. Producer: Steven Ullman. Writers: Jim Dries and Carol Swarbrick Dries; based on their play. Cinematography: Alex Haessner. Editing: Tyler Winther.

Cast: Carol Swarbrick, Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, Sam Donaldson, Tommy Lasorda.

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