The real workhorse of the movie is veteran actor Dennis Quaid. As Bart’s abusive father, Quaid bears the heavy load of convincingly giving us both a monster and a repentant dad longing to connect with his son. Quaid impresses on both counts, drawing tears when he asks, “If God can forgive everybody else, why can’t he forgive me?”
Once Bart leaves for college and sets out on the road to CCM success, the story loses some steam and occasionally veers into schmaltz, as when Bart imagines his deceased father waving at him from a concert audience. And the film commits the common error of falling back on a montage where one or two fleshed-out, representative scenes would have had greater impact. But overall, I Can Only Imagine is an indie that does the song and its sentiments proud.
I’ve often witnessed Christian movies I don’t consider especially accomplished from an artistic standpoint strike a chord with moviegoers and put up impressive box office numbers. I’m usually glad enough to see it, but I’m thrilled when a well-done Christian film draws the audience it deserves. I hope I won’t have to only imagine this movie becoming one of those.