Full disclosure. Bart Millard is a friend. So this review could have been an awkward (not Happy) dance if the movie based on MercyMe’s iconic song had fallen flat. But it does not. I Can Only Imagine delivers a powerful and compelling story of redemption, forgiveness and the power of God’s grace.
This is a Christian movie you can recommend to friends who have been wounded by life. It is unabashedly Christian but it works because it is not preaching. It is Bart Millard’s story. The elements of faith are not contrived or cringe-worthy because they are simply his story. There is no more powerful canvas to illustrate faith than watching normal people do extraordinary things through the power of faith.
Dennis Quaid does a masterful job portraying Bart’s abusive dad Arthur. Quaid captures the fearful rage but also the tortured pain in Arthur’s own soul that needs a healing touch. J.Michael Finley plays Bart Millard perfectly although not quite as awkward as the real Bart. Sorry, I couldn’t play this entirely straight. This is a well done movie across the board in storytelling, acting and photography.
Understanding Bart’s difficult background made me understand even more why Bart was undone when he finally comprehended the miraculous depth of God’s Grace. Learning about a Father’s love that never changes inspired Bart Millard to write lyrics like this in the song Greater.
And bring your shame
Bring your guilt
And bring your pain
Don’t you know that’s not your name
You will always be much more to me
That keep telling me I’m not right
But that’s alright
When others say I’ll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me