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Review: “I Can Only Imagine”

Noah Buresh, Staff Writer

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In the span of recent years, critics have been dismissive of Christian movies, saying they typically are of low quality and have poor scripts and plots. However, the new film from the Erwin Brothers, I Can Only Imagine, has surprised Hollywood by its commercial success and has brought hope to the Christian movie genre. Based upon the story behind the Christian band MercyMe’s chart-topping song of the same name, I Can Only Imagine brings a message of hope, love, and ultimately forgiveness to a bigger audience through cinema.

The movie tells the story of Bart Millard, the author and vocalist behind the MercyMe song, “I Can Only Imagine.” Coming from a home with an abusive father, Bart goes through his life trying to escape the life that he has at home. As he gets older, Bart’s dreams of playing college football are shattered when he is injured and unable to play for the rest of his life. However, Bart finds solace in music, a passion he had previously ignored. Deciding to pursue music as a career, Bart begins the band MercyMe and begins writing and performing songs. Yet, over time Bart realizes that in order for him to become a successful Christian artist, he must first face his demons that he holds with his father and learn to forgive the past mistakes.

In a breakout role, J. Michael Finley shines in his portrayal of Bart Millard. His performance sells the energetic, positive personality that Millard has in real life, but is also able to capture the heartbreaking effects of growing up with an abusive father. Dennis Quaid, who plays Bart’s father, also has an unforgettable performance that showcases the redemption that can come through faith in Christ.

I Can Only Imagine is a truly beautiful film that captures the heartwarming story behind the smash hit single. Uncharacteristically well-received by critics as opposed to most Christian movies, it showcases real effort to build a relatable story with lovable characters and witty dialogue. I would highly recommend you get to a theater as soon as possible to enjoy this film, and by doing so the Christian film industry will receive further support to continue making films that shine like this one.

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