By MARK HIGLEY
The movie, I Can Only Imagine, is based on the true story behind the soaring anthem of the same name — the bestselling Christian song of all time. It’s one that has brought hope to many with its stirring melody about the power of forgiveness.
The family drama portrays the life of tortured lead singer and songwriter, Bart Millard, of the Christian band, Mercy Me. Millard wrote the song after the loss of
his father to cancer. His father was a bitter and ill-tempered man and Bart leaned into his active imagination and his love for music to escape his turbulent home life.
Even though the song was written in mere minutes, as his girlfriend tells him, “those lyrics took a lifetime to craft.” The song has since become a crossover, triple platinum Christian pop music phenomenon.
The film stars a fresh mix of new faces and Hollywood A-listers. Bart is played by newcomer J. Michael Finley, who is bolstered by seasoned film vets Dennis
Quaid and Cloris Leachman. Though it’s Finley’s first foray onto the silver screen, he’s no rookie thespian. He
has been belting out tunes on Broadway in Les Miserables
for the last three years.
Age doesn’t seem to be slowing down Oscar winner Cloris Leachman, 92, who plays Bart’s “Memaw.”After winning an Academy Award in 1972 for her role in The Last Picture Show, Leachman said, “I’m at a point
where I’m free to go out and have a little fun with my career.” Audiences will recall that at the spry age of 82, she foxtrotted her way into the hearts of millions
on Dancing with the Stars.
Dennis Quaid, 63, plays the part of Bart’s rancorous father, Arthur Millard, who wants nothing to do
with his son’s career. “Dreams don’t pay the bills,” the elder Millard tells his son.
In his real life, Quaid is an accomplished musician,
playing the keyboards with his band, The Sharks. Quaid
is best known for his featured roles in films such as The
Right Stuff and Breaking Away.
With the guidance of a grizzled music industry insider,
played by booming baritone Trace Adkins, the band, Mercy Me, begins an incredible journey none of them could have ever imagined. (By the way, Trace Adkins is slated
to perform at this year’s
Florida Strawberry Festival
on Wed., March 7.)
I Can Only Imagine is a faith movie that beautifully illustrates no one is ever
too far away from God’s love and redemption.
The movie is set for limited nationwide release March 16.
Mark Higley is an Emmy award-winning screenwriter who has written for many soap operas including One Life to Live and Days of our Lives.