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“In Wonder”: Everything About Shawn Mendes’ New Documentary

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

It’s no secret that Shawn Mendes‘ career is something outstanding for the music industry. The 22-year-old musician started singing on the internet and now breaks all kinds of charts – and he was also nominated for the 2019 and 2020 Grammy Awards. 

Therefore, having a Netflix documentary is definitely a huge step for his career and his life. However, before talking about the film and its extraordinary beauty, it is important to rewind the tape. It is important to understand who Shawn Mendes is.

“Hey, guys, it’s Shawn Mendes here”

Shawn Peter Raul Mendes, or just Shawn Mendes for the world, was born on August 8, 1998 in Pickering, Toronto, Canada. Half Portuguese and half British, Mendes has always been connected to music. Actually, he was 9 years old when he made up his mind: he would be an artist no matter what. So, aftera lot of studying and watching cover videos on YouTube, Shawn learned how to play the guitar and introduced himself to the world through a very popular app at the time: Vine. 

Uploading plenty of videos with only a few seconds, Shawn started to show what he was capable of. And it was one of these 6-second videos that turned Mendes’ life upside down. In 2013, he released a cover of As Long As You Love Me, by Justin Bieber, and got over ten thousand likes in just one day. From that moment, he knew everything would change.

That same year, Shawn joined Magcon (Meet and Greet Convention), Vine’s most popular group of famous boys. After that, his career as a singer kept growing and caught the eye of an important businessman, Andrew Gertler, who offered him a contract with Island Records, one of the biggest record companies in the world. For a 16-year-old boy who was just starting, that certainly sounded like paradise.

Shawn Mendes’ debut single, Life of The Party, was released in 2014 and ranked 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 list, making Mendes the youngest artist to have a debut song on Top 25. After that, in 2015, his first studio album, called Handwritten, came out and stayed at No. 1 for weeks in several countries around the globe. A surprising news for the dreamer canadian boy.

Nevertheless, he was ready to break more charts! In 2016, Shawn released Illuminate, his second studio album and the one responsible for bringing him one billion views on YouTube. Singles like Treat You Better and There’s Nothing Holding Me Back played on countless radio stations around the world, reaching more and more fans of the boy with a beautiful smile and sweet brown eyes. Besides that, in that same year, he was nominated one of the most influential artists on the planet by Forbes, on its 30 Under 30 list. 

Lastly, his self-titled third studio album, Shawn Mendes, came out in 2018 revealing a new singer and songwriter. Songs like In My Blood, which talks about anxiety, showed us a new side of Shawn, more vulnerable and real. 

In fact, that is something that he claims since the beginning: he is real, just like everyone else. He is just a regular guy who loves music – and his fans. And it is exactly what we see in the documentary: a true, personal and authentic portrait of the 22-year-old boy. 

“In Wonder” And Its Purity

This isn’t a story about a famous musician. This is a story about a guy growing up.

In my opinion, this quote is the best abstract for this fantastic documentary. I, honestly, started crying in the first 10 minutes, and there is so much to celebrate about this film. It is purely beautiful and it definitely makes us feel closer to Shawn – not the popstar, but the person.  

In Wonder was released on Netflix on November 23rd and the least I can say about it is that it was a pleasure to watch. Directed by Grant Singer, the 1-hour film is almost like a journal of Mendes’ life; talking about career, family, friends, relationships and pressure. In every aspect, we are able to enter Shawn’s life and get to know a little more about him and his famous career. 

The documentary is divided into three main segments: career, personal growth and relationships. In the first one, we get to see how it all started, like visiting his home in Canada, seeing where he used to record all the videos, and, mostly, seeing how he feels about music.

Throughout the whole film it is very clear that music is who Shawn is, it is part of his soul, and it is beautiful to watch how he expresses himself and his truth by making music and inspiring people. On the other hand, the whole movie has that melancholy essence, showing that being a popstar is not easy. We follow Shawn through all 105 shows of Shawn Mendes: The Tour and it is crazy to see how he tries to make every single show special, because, according to him, “every concert is someone’s first time” and he wants to make it memorable. 

Another important point is the personal growth and vulnerability shown in the documentary. Basically, it is impossible not to cry. When Mendes talks about how his anxiety hurts him and how he constantly feels that he is not enough is heartbreaking. And the most emotional thing about it is that it is very real, he shows us a side of him that he was scared to show before.

After the middle of the film, we watch what happened with the São Paulo concert that was cancelled in 2019 because of problems with his vocal cords. Seeing this situation through his eyes and his fear is something that broke my heart.

Later, Shawn talks about the chanting that Brazilian fans did for him outside the hotel as a sign of support and, personally, I couldn’t be prouder to be a Brazilian fan. It is clear that this one single attitude changed everything for him and made him feel loved. Also, watching him grow from one of the hardest moments is something very inspiring, carrying a message that even though we are facing bad times, the good times will arrive and they will be better – we just have to have hope.

However, Shawn does not face anything alone. His relationships are something that is very explored in the movie. We can see his family, how he is connected to them, his old friends, who keep him in the real world, and his girlfriend, Camila Cabello. Watching how supportive and caring they are with each other is something very beautiful.

In my opinion, highlighting Mendes as a normal guy talking to his family and cheering with his friends was a great move, because it makes us feel like we could be friends with him too and understand some part of him that is very personal. The love in this point of the documentary is very deep and easy to feel. It is simply amazing!

Furthermore, in the movie we can check some parts of Shawn’s fourth studio album, Wonder, listening to some lyrics and watching the process of creativity and the making of each song. As we can see in the film, this new era brings out a new songwriter and artist, more mature and vulnerable. The album has 14 songs and it is going to be released on December 4th on all streaming platforms. 

Finally, it is important to remark that this documentary definitely has no mercy on the fans! In Wonder is beautiful, real and pure. As a fan since 2013, I am so proud of who Shawn has become and how true he is. It is pleasing to watch how much he has grown since his first YouTube cover, not only as a singer but also as a person. The documentary made me feel a lot closer to him and all I can say is that everyone should watch it, being a fan or not. It is so breathtaking and wonderful that it is definitely worth a watch – even with a few tears and smiles on the way.


The article above was edited by Laura Okida.

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Leticia Lopes

Casper Libero '23

a bookaholic journalism student, feminist and tv show enthusiast.