Nobody ever said that being famous is easy. Just ask Shawn Mendes. The Canadian singer-songwriter has been a superstar since he was a teenager. By the time he turned 21, Mendes had already released three full-length studio albums, multiple platinum singles, toured the world multiple times, and gained millions of fans. In the world of pop music, they don’t get much bigger.
And yet, success like that comes at a price. For Mendes, it means spending lots of time away from his loved ones. It means sacrificing his personal privacy, so he can no longer go for a drive or walk down the street without being spotted. It means pushing himself to the limit to put on the best show possible every single night. And it means that, with dedicated fans hanging on his every word, the pressure to keep everyone happy is enormous.
That’s a lot for anyone to deal with, but thankfully, Mendes is more than capable of handling all of that and more. You’ll get to see that for yourself in In Wonder, a new feature-length documentary that takes you behind the scenes of Mendes’ world-spanning 2019 tour. You’ll be right there as Mendes deals with the tour’s various ups and downs, records his latest album, Wonder, and (re-)connects with both fans and family. Even better, you’ll see that Mendes handles every obstacle life throws his way with poise, an unflinchingly up-beat attitude, and genuine humility. By the end, there’s no doubt that Mendes was born to be a superstar. In Wonder proves it.
Who is Shawn Mendes?
There’s nothing old-fashioned about Shawn Mendes’ career. At 14, he taught himself how to play guitar by watching tutorials on YouTube. At 15, his fame skyrocketed thanks to videos he posted on social media, in which he covered tunes like Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me.” By the time Mendes signed a record deal, millions of fans had already discovered his unique and soulful voice through Vine, Instagram, and other social media outlets.
That’s already an inspiring story. But that’s only the beginning. Since 2014, Mendes has opened for Taylor Swift and performed at a special concert in honor of Queen Elizabeth. In 2014, he became the youngest artist to have a debut single chart within the top 25 spots on Billboard’s Top 100. He’s sold out venues like Los Angeles’ Staples Center and London’s O2 arena. He’s headlined three international tours. And he’s scored three Grammy nominations in addition to a bunch of other award wins.
And, somehow, he’s only getting better. With each subsequent album, Mendes’ lyrics become more complex, his melodies become more experimental, and his voice grows even more powerful. His contributions to pop culture go further than music, too. In 2014, Mendes launched a campaign called “Notes from Shawn,” which encouraged fans to write positive messages for others while raising money for charity. In 2019, he founded the Shawn Mendes Foundation, which is devoted to inspiring young fans to bring about positive change. As you’ll see, Mendes really is that kind and compassionate. It’s not an act — he’s the real deal.
Shawn Mendes' life on the road, warts and all
Of course, behind all those hit singles and broken records, Shawn Mendes is a real person with his own hopes and fears and dreams, and In Wonder focuses mostly on the human, not the headlines. While the documentary touches on Mendes’ early days, the bulk of the film centers on Mendes’ 2019 world tour and his work recording his fourth studio album, Wonder.
As a result, while you’ll get to see plenty of footage of Mendes’ electrifying live performances and listen to many of his biggest hits, In Wonder‘s most powerful moments are the quieter ones. In one sequence, Mendes returns to his hometown of Pickering, Ontario, showing the camera crew where he used to hang out as a teen, and taking a moment to lie on the ground and look up at the stars. In another, he shares pages from his manifestation journal. He gushes about a brief stay in New York, where he and his girlfriend are able to act like normal, cosmopolitan adults, and laughs with his sister about how he originally didn’t want to be famous.
In Wonder doesn’t shy away from Mendes’ struggles with anxiety, either. Not only does Shawn put enormous pressure on himself to improve with each and every record, but there’s a lot riding on each one of Mendes’ performances. When something goes wrong, Mendes takes the responsibility very, very personally. In Wonder is just a compelling look at what life on the road is like for a young superstar, but it’s an even better portrait of a young man currently making the transition from teen to adult. Like Shawn says, this is a story about growing up.
It's all about the love
At its heart, In Wonder is a love story. Shawn Mendes loves music, he loves his fans, and he loves performing, and his drive to improve himself on all fronts is what drives In Wonder forward. But In Wonder is also about the people who Mendes loves — in particular, the love he has for his girlfriend, Camila Cabello.
Cabello, who has a major role in the film, first rose to fame as a member of girl group Fifth Harmony, of which she was a part from 2012 to 2016. That’s when she met Mendes, who was opening for the same group as Fifth Harmony. In 2015, Mendes and Cabello released their first collaboration, “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” and they’ve been friends ever since. Although Mendes and Cabello only started dating in 2019, Cabello has been Mendes’ muse for years. “They’ve all been about you,” Mendes says, referring to Cabello, “every song I ever wrote.”
In fact, while Mendes is a solo act, In Wonder makes it very, very clear that he didn’t reach the top alone. Either as a friend or a significant other, Cabello has been by his side since almost the very beginning. His parents have been nothing but supportive. His childhood friends give him the encouragement he needs, the fans keep him going, and his younger sister Aaliyah brings him back down to Earth. At the end of the day, Mendes is supremely talented, but his success isn’t his alone. It belongs to everyone.
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