Inspired by the true-life story of the lead singer of contemporary Christian band, MercyMe, I can only Imagine is a beautiful, uplifting story of redemption and forgiveness.
Bart Millard's father (Dennis Quaid) was emotionally and physically abusive. His mother left when he was 10 and Bart found an escape in music and faith, playing songs by Christian musicians like Amy Grant repeatedly on his Walkman, and dreaming of being a pop star.
After graduating high school, Bart (played by J. Michael Finley in his screen acting debut) leaves home – and girlfriend, Shannon (Madeline Carroll), who has stuck by him for years - and joins a band, which they call MercyMe, an expression used by Bart's grandmother.
The band has some success but record exes turn them down because they don't seem to have an authentic voice. Bart's manager challenges him "What are you running from?" "My dad," he admits. "He beat you? Then write from that pain. Stop running and use it," Brickell (Trace Atkins) advises.
So Bart goes home to deal with his relationship with his dad and finds a changed man. Without giving too much of the story away, the resulting healing leads Bart to write MercyMe's first number one hit, "I can only Imagine", a passionate, piano-driven ballade, which is the most successful Christian single of all time, selling 2.5 million copies and earning Bart a Dove Music Award in 2002. It also gained unexpected secular acclaim, being played on hundreds of US radio stations.
The movie directed by the Erwin brothers, was released in theatres in March 2018, and is now available on DVD and download. It is rated PG, and has a profound message for anyone who might feel God can't forgive them, they can't forgive someone else, or that their situation is hopeless.•