By Annette Quijada
Singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes opens up about the highs and lows that come with fame in his moving Netflix documentary “In Wonder.” In this coming of age film, director Grant Singer captures Mendes’ growing career, family, relationships, and his anxiety.
Viewers get to see how the canadian pop-star rose to fame at only 15 years old by going viral on Vine, a now deleted social media platform where users posted 6 second videos. Mendes posted many videos on vine where he performed song covers. His videos led to his manager Andrew Getler spotting him and signing with Island Record label. Eventually he became the third youngest artist to debut in the top 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 with his first single Life of the Party.
“In Wonder” takes a closer look at Mendes during his 2019 tour for his third self titled album. He’s shown traveling around the world while dealing with anxiety and learning to see anxiety as more of a companion rather than an enemy. He struggles with not wanting to disappoint his fans, while also craving the safety net of being home with his loved ones.
The major conflict in the film comes when Mendes is battling with a sore throat while on tour in São Paulo, Brazil. It’s hard not to sympathize with the singer when he is seen being torn over cancelling a show or risking vocal cord damage towards the end of his tour.
Mendes’ dedication to his craft is laid out for all to see. He recalls his pre-teen years where he would spend over 10 hours in his bedroom playing with his guitar till his hands bled. He’s shown constantly practicing vocalizing almost every free moment during tour, between rehearsals, while being stuck in traffic, at home, in the studio, etc. But even with his intense love for music, there’s clearly something he longs for which is his regular home life in Canada where his parents and lifelong friends reside.
There’s a point in the film where Mendes says, “I’m so grateful. I love these performances. I’ve never had so much fun in my life. But at the same time, I just want to hang out with my parents and watch movies, drive around a suburb and lay on a soccer field, and you know, smoke a joint and stare at the stars with my friends and, like, eat some beef jerky.” His feelings are more than valid; child sensations tend to get sucked into the industry so quickly that they miss out on a lot.
Towards the end, viewers will get a sneak peek of the making of his recent single Wonder, which is the first single of his awaited album coming December 4, 2020.
Although there’s nothing breathtakingly new that viewers can take from the documentary as there’ve been many young artists who’ve shown these same struggles like Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never documentary. “In Wonder” manages to humanize Shawn by displaying his eternal struggles with being a pop sensation trying to stay humble and sane. “In Wonder” is now available to watch on Netflix and is rated TV-MA.