Shawn Mendes: In Wonder review – there’s something holding this back

November 23, 2020
Louie Fecou 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
3

Summary

If you are a fan of the man’s work, then Shawn Mendes: In Wonder is a must-see. If you are looking for real depth and inquiry into the strange world of the pop superstar, you will have to look further afield.

3

Summary

If you are a fan of the man’s work, then Shawn Mendes: In Wonder is a must-see. If you are looking for real depth and inquiry into the strange world of the pop superstar, you will have to look further afield.

Over the course of a world tour, this Shawn Mendes: In Wonder follows Shawn as he opens up about stardom, relationships, and his musical future.

Opening, as these things usually do, with a voice-over and Shawn preparing to go on stage, Shawn explains how he feels, before we cut to the man himself in the shower, then playing with his phone. It is almost like a YouTube influencer showing us their daily routine. An overlay then flashes us to three months earlier. Sean is on stage in New York. When he leaves the stage he is followed by a camera crew leaving the building and being transported by his milling fan base back to wherever Shawn goes, where he practices his vocal range before being handed a leading question that is answered in home footage of his childhood years. Sean then voice-overs the footage explaining his school years, and his dream in Toronto of singing. More home footage of Shawn playing at his school, followed by his manager telling us how incredible he thought Shawn’s cover of Say Something was and how he wanted to sign him. We then cut back to another montage of performances and traveling.

This is pretty much how Shawn Mendes: In Wonder continues, for the next hour and a bit.

There is more footage of the talented performer in rehearsal, and talking to his band, all with the camera very easily being able to focus on Shawn’s every word. The voice-over is obviously scripted, leaving me to think that this may not be as unguarded as we have been led to believe.

Despite the access the crew has to all things Shawn, there is very little here that lends itself to true documentary making, as it all feels a little staged. Shawn musing about the lyrics to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” is almost self-parody, and more rehearsal footage with the band in the studio lacks any real sense of fly on the wall.

I guess that fans of Shawn will find lots to enjoy here. Unfortunately, there is not much in Shawn Mendes: In Wonder for anyone else.

There are no great insights into the world of a touring superstar, Shawn seems to be following in the footsteps of every previous music documentary committed to film. As a casual viewer, we see nothing that will enlighten us to the inner workings of the pop sensation, leaving the nonfan with very little to engage with. It’s all very staged, nothing feels spontaneous and this is purely made for fans.

And that’s a shame, as there may have been a chance for perhaps an independent filmmaker to try to capture something a little more raw about this young man’s rise to stardom, but this production is far more interested in glossing over any real hardships and allowing Shawn to wax lyrically about his life and loves. When we get the obligatory visit to his parent’s house, it’s all just chit chat, and nothing more. There is an attempt to add a touch of drama with a scare over Shawn’s voice in the last act, but it does all come across as melodramatic rather than an actual concern. When the show is canceled, it’s the fans we feel sorry for.

Watching him and his partner sing Senorita in a bathroom may look quirky, but there’s nothing new here, nothing unique, nothing actually real, so as a non-fan, I am left with a viewing experience that is vacant and blank.

If you are a fan of the man’s work, then Shawn Mendes: In Wonder is a must-see. If you are looking for real depth and inquiry into the strange world of the pop superstar, you will have to look further afield.


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