Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

My Review of I CAN ONLY IMAGINE

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I Can Only Imagine, rated PG
*** ½

I Can Only Imagine is the story behind MercyMe’s song of the same title, the most- played Contemporary Christian song of all time.  It is one of the best faith-based films that I have seen. The film is directed by Andrew and John Erwin (October Baby, Woodlawn, Mom’s Night Out), and written by Alex Cramer, Brent McCorkle (Unconditional), and John Erwin.
We first meet Bart Millard, played as a young boy by Brody Rose, living in Greenville, Texas. His home life isn’t good, as his father Arthur, played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Dennis Quaid (The Special Relationship, Far from Heaven), is physically and verbally abusive toward Bart and his mother Adele, played by Tanya Clarke.

***SPOILER ALERT ***
Arthur has never gotten over his failure to achieve his football dreams.  Bart’s mom sends him to a church camp where he meets a girl named Shannon, played by Taegen Burns. But when Bart returns home, his Mom has left the home, abandoning him to live alone with his father. The older Bart, played by J. Michael Finley, tries to earn his father’s approval by playing football. But a crushing tackle results in both of Bart’s legs being broken, thus ending his football playing days and his hopes of fulfilling his father’s dreams.
Shannon, now played by Madeline Carroll, encourages him to take the Glee Club as an elective, led by Mrs. Fincher, played by Priscilla C. Schirer (War Room). It is there that he finds out that he can sing and is given a lead role in the musical Oklahoma!, a role that he accepts reluctantly. But Bart’s relationship with his father continues to deteriorate, and so he decides to leave both his father and Shannon.
Bart leaves for Oklahoma City and eventually becomes the lead singer for a then struggling band, MercyMe, named for Memaw’s favorite expression. He asks a famous music manager Brickell, played by actor and country music artist Trace Adkins, to attend one of the band’s shows. Brickell is supportive of Bart but tells him that the band isn’t quite ready. After a promising showcase at the Gospel Music Association doesn’t result in an expected record deal, Bart decides to return home to deal with his relationship with his father. But Bart is not prepared for the father he returns home to.
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Michael Finley is excellent in the lead role of Bart Millard as is Dennis Quaid as Arthur Millard, Bart’s abusive father. Nicole DePort portrays Amy Grant in a twist to the story that I didn’t see coming. 91-year-old Oscar winner Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show), portrays Bart’s Memaw in a small role. Themes in this emotionally powerful film include family dysfunction, fear, abuse, core lies, pursuing dreams, forgiveness, repentance, faith, redemption and reconciliation.
I Can Only Imagine is an emotional, well-made and acted film, and one of the best faith-based films I’ve seen, although due to the subject matter, parts of the film are difficult to watch. If you want to read more about this powerful story, check out Bart Millard’s new book I Can Only Imagine: A Memoir.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/author/billpence Tammy Pence's Amazon Author Page

2 thoughts on “My Review of I CAN ONLY IMAGINE

  1. Great review. I knew I would like you when I saw your favorite books. I sign all my correspondence “coram Deo”

    Thanks. MARSHALL in NC

  2. I agree. I thought the film was very well done. Parts of it actually made me cry, not an easy thing to do.

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