Christian Movies,  Christian Music

I Can Only Imagine – Review of Excellent Movie about Forgiveness

I Can Only Imagine (2018)

Cast: J.Michael Finley, Madeline Carroll, Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins, Cloris Leachman, Brody Rose,Priscilla Shirer

Directors: Andrew and Jon Erwin (The Erwin Brothers)

Writers:  Alex Cramer (story by), Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle

Synopsis: J. Michael Finley stars as grownup Bart and Brody Rose as young Bart.   It is the true story of Bart Millard (of MercyMe) and his relationship with his alcholic father, which prompted him to write the amazing song, I Can Only Imagine.  The story brings hope to many as you see the power of God in bringing reconciliation and forgiveness after the pain and hurt many of us go through.

Trailer with Bart Millard


I saw this movie when it was released just prior to Easter this year (2018).  It is my favorite of the Christian movies released so far in 2018.  This movie will touch the hearts of all who see it!  It is about the story of Bart Millard of MercyMe and what inspired Bart to write his song I Can Only Imagine.   It also reveals how he got connected with his group and how they became MercyMe.

The creators of the movie, the Erwin Brothers have several other well known movies, such as October Baby, Mom’s Night Out, and Woodlawn.  The movie is very well done.

The movie starts with this young boy (Brody Rose as Bart), working for his MeMaw to earn money and buying some items at the local hardware store and taking them home, only to have his apparently alcholic, angry, abusive father, Arthur, (Dennis Quaid), burn one of the items out of sheer meanness.  You immediately see how bad the dad is and feel for the boy and his mom.  I won’t tell the whole story because you really, really, need to see it and to feel the pain Bart experiences growing up in this sad home situation.   You also see how strong he becomes in his own walk with the Lord.

J. Michael Finley is excellent in his role as Bart, as is Dennis Quaid as the abusive, alcoholic dad. They both have you feeling their pain and hurt.

Bart breaks up with his lifelong girlfriend, Shannon (Madeline Carroll), and takes off on his motorcycle to go on an ‘adventure’.  He meets the guys who, along with Bart, form the group, MercyMe.  You have to catch in the movie where the name came from.  I will leave that for you to find out when you see the movie.

The movie takes you out with Bart on the road with the guys who formed the group, MercyMe, and Scott Brikell (Trace Adkins) comes in as their band manager and just when you think they are going to become famous, it doesn’t happen.  You are disappointed for Bart and the group, but that is the way things are in real life and what happened to the group.  Scott Brikell tells him like it is and that he isn’t writing or performing from the heart.  He says it is fake and he needs to face whatever is holding him back.   He tells him to contact him when he finds himself and he is ready to perform from the heart.   That will be when he is ready.  Bart goes back home to his father’s house.  The man he finds there is not the one he angrily left months before!

One of the things which I particularly appreciated was that there was no foul language in the movie.  In situations in this movie so many movie makers feel that foul language would have been spoken and that they need to include it, but they did not.  I am thankful for that!  Bart’s dad is assumed to be an alcoholic but we actually don’t see him drinking.  Domestic violence is a part of Bart’s life and him mother’s life.  We see his father come to his bedroom ready to beat him with a belt but he doesn’t because he is asleep, but it implies that beatings were the norm and Bart mentions it when talking to Amy Grant telling her his story.

Bart tells Amy Grant that he wrote the song in about ten minutes, but she tells him, he has been writing that song all his life.  And that is so true.  What brought about the writing of that song was Bart’s life story and that of his relationship with his dad.

I pray that those who have avoided seeing this film because it is a faith-based film, will put that aside and just go see it. It deals with anger and abuse in a very careful way.  The story is told extremely well and in authentic, heartfelt way.  They show the sadness of the situation that existed in Bart’s life but with class and character and without exploitation of the situation.

Bart ultimately writes this song for his father.  After his return to his father’s home and finding his dad changed, he has a relationship with him that he never dreamed would ever happen.  He gets to see a side of him that he never knew existed and formed a bond with him that he surely had prayed for but never expected.  That knewly formed relationship and reconciliation brought him to write the song, I Can Only Imagine.

I Can Only Imagine (the song) by MercyMe:

This song catapulted MercyMe into mainstream appeal and into superstars.  It is mentioned that this song is the Best Selling and most played Christian single of all time!


I, personally, came from a home where there was physical and mental abuse and I know the pain and hurt and how hard it is to forgive someone who does these things to you and your Mom and siblings.  It touched my heart and it blessed me to see the reconciliation and love he got to share with his dad before he died.

As I mentioned above, I am leaving out lots of the details of the movie, because I want you to see it for yourself and form your own opinion.  I give this movie 5 stars!

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