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Movie Review: 'I Can Only Imagine'

'I Can Only Imagine' was released in 2018.

By Rachel CarringtonPublished 5 years ago 3 min read

Released in 2018 and with a modest budget of $7 million, I Can Only Imagine became a box office success, raking in $85 million worldwide to become the fifth highest-grossing music biopic and the sixth highest-grossing Christian film of all time in the United States. Still, it took me well over a year to watch it. And then I immediately saw why the movie won "Inspirational Film of the Year" at the 2018 Dove Awards.

Based upon the true life story of Bart Millard, the lead singer of the band, Mercy Me, I Can Only Imagine stars Dennis Quaid, newcomer J. Michael Finley, Trace Adkins, Cloris Leachman, bestselling author Priscilla Shirer, and Madeline Carroll. And the movie wouldn't have been the same without any of these actors.

With an abusive father and a battle-weary mother, Bart Millard is struggling to make it through life. When his mother decides to leave, that life changes forever, shaping him into a man who can't forgive the past as he has to suffer through his father's rages until he is old enough to leave home.

J. Michael Finley, who portrays Bart Millard, has previously acted on the stage, but I Can Only Imagine is his first movie role. That's not evident in this movie as Finley delivers a stellar performance as a broken young man trying to hold his life together in spite of the blows coming his way. But it's his stoicism that almost costs him the love of his life.

While still in high school, Millard finds love with Shannon, a Christian girl who attends the same school. The actors have nearly-perfect chemistry. Unfortunately, when Shannon, played by Madeline Carroll, who is a devout Christian herself, struggled with Millard's inability to open up to her, their romance fizzled.

Dennis Quaid's portrayal of a drunk and violent father is so spot-on, it's chilling. Having seen most all of Quaid's movies, I found it difficult to see him play such a dark role, but it made his transformation so much more believable.

It takes a terminal illness to bring Quaid's character, Arthur Millard, to a turning point. His change is one of the most powerful parts of the movie as finally Millard is able to have the relationship he wants with his father, even if it is only for a short amount of time. Their reconciliation is both touching and heart-wrenching as Millard's father dies shortly after.

During Arthur's funeral, Millard's grandmother wondered what Arthur was seeing now that he'd entered heaven. She said she could only imagine. Those words would become the impetus for the award-winning song that is also the movie's title.

Bart Millard and his band had been struggling to find their space in the world of Christian music. They would get close only to be disappointed, but once Millard wrote "I Can Only Imagine," the song God placed upon his heart after his father's death, their lives changed forever.

Along with winning the 2001 Dove Award for Song of the Year and the award for Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year, "I Can Only Imagine" became the most-played song in the history of Christian radio and the best-selling Christian song of all time. It was certified triple Platinum by RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and has sold well over two million copies. It has also been recorded by Jeff Carson, Susan Boyle, and Tamela Mann as well as the Heritage Singers, and the official music video has been viewed over 66 million times on YouTube.

I Can Only Imagine wrings all the emotion from viewers while inviting them to share in the uplifting true story of redemption, forgiveness, and triumph over some of the darkest adversity a child can endure.

#icanonlyimagine #Mercyme #dennisquaid #JMichaelFinley #BartMillard #Doveawards #susanboyle #tamelamann

movie review

About the Creator

Rachel Carrington

I'm an avid writer and reader. I've had over 53 novels published and over 2,000 articles. Here I review movies, TV series/episodes, books, and write about entertainment. www.rachelcarrington.com

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    Rachel CarringtonWritten by Rachel Carrington

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