The Echoes

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Doing the Unimaginable

"I Can Only Imagine" succeeds as a Christian film, thinks outside the genre

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Faith-based films are often damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Do they preach zealous Christian themes, alienating most of their audience? Or do they shuffle their religious itinerary to the side, earning the scorn of the hardcore religious crowd?

Fortunately, I Can Only Imagine does neither.

I Can Only Imagine is the biographical story of how the Christian rock group MercyMe came into being and how they produced their eponymous hit.

The story revolves around Bart Millard (J. Michael Finley), the lead singer of MercyMe, and his troubled upbringing. Over the course of the film, he’s put through the wringer so many times it begins to get sickening.

Bart’s father is abusive and refuses to improve himself, even deciding to leave his mother once the going gets tough enough. Compounding this issue, Bart finds that he cannot pursue an athletic career due to a nasty injury.

Bart begins to call his very faith into question until he is placed in a musical program at school, founding a Christian rock group called MercyMe. After he and his bandmates craft their first hit, Bart realizes that his faith is the only thing that was holding him together through those trying times.

The film had some very good acting, with special props to Finley’s performance. There was something refreshing about his performance; rather than being an ultra-masculine hulk of a man, Finley was remarkably average.

The score wasn’t anything particularly special, but it blended into the background so well that I couldn’t even realize it sometimes. This presented the dilemma of allowing the score to dominate the scene or let it punctuate the movie, and I’m glad they went with door number two.

I Can Only Imagine’s message is diluted by the constant angst and sadness, but even as an apathetic high schooler, I could find something to take away.

Too often faith-based films are nauseatingly soaked in Christian perfumes, which turns people off to the genre as a whole. I Can Only Imagine manages to find an audience in everyone.

I Can Only Imagine is rated PG.

The film was rate 3 and a half crosses out of 5.

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Doing the Unimaginable