Every time we see Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello together, I debate whether they’re in madly in love, the way they tell us they are, or if it’s a showmance. I’m still undecided, but the trailer for Shawn’s new Netflix doc In Wonder is giving me serious showmance vibes. At one point Shawn is sitting at the piano, and Camila says, “It sounds like your heart.” What? Perhaps I’ve become desensitized, but their PDA wasn’t the most cringe moment for me. There’s actually a lot more going on in this two minute trailer that’s a little too polished for me to believe it.
The trailer opens with Shawn in the shower. Why? I’m not sure. I guess they wanted to throw in a thirst trap for good measure. Those first few seconds immediately take us out of the documentary treatment we’ve been pitched. The camera guy is supposed to be a fly on the wall, but they don’t follow you into the bathroom. He’s in there, water splashing down his shoulders, with the shower door open. It’s framed from the waist up. Is he wearing a bathing suit in the shower just so the director can get this great opening shot? All documentaries have some staged moments, or moments where they ask the subject to go through the motions again for better camera angles or closeups, but this is egregious. It’s completely staged.
I feel like things go full cringe when Shawn’s voice starts narrating the trailer with clips from a classic doc-style interview that will weave this film together. Clips about how he gets nervous performing but then realizes he’s just a guy who loves music and it’s “time to surrender.”
“We’re on a hundred and four show tour and it’s pretty intense all the time, but this isn’t a story about a famous musician. This is a story about a guy growing up.”
That was a line out of his mouth, which we’re supposed to believe wasn’t scripted. I know he’s more romantic than I, so maybe this is just how he talks, but it sounds like that line was written specifically for a trailer soundbite. Then the trailer teases the climax of this doc’s story arc. Shawn questions whether he’s “doing a little too much” during his concerts, before we see a stethoscope held up to him, and a stage manager over a headset say, “You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“If I tell the world that I’m just a normal human, are they going to stop coming to the shows?” Shawn asks. “Maybe I should pretend that I’m Superman for a little bit longer.”
I didn’t plan on not disliking most of this trailer, but look at the material Shawn gave me to judge. Do his fans think he’s Superman? His last album talked a lot about mental health, specifically struggles with anxiety. In the past, his whole brand has been looking like the perfect, preppy young man you would bring home to meet your parents, on the outside, and being a socially awkward quirky, artsy kid, on the inside. Just look at how he poses on every single red carpet he’s ever been on by holding up a peace sign. Are we building a superman narrative just to tear it down halfway through the doc? I’m more interested in actually getting to know Shawn as a person. There ars shots of him around Toronto, just being a “regular guy” — give us more of that. Save the “I’m not perfect” stuff. It’s 2020, we’re way past thinking celebrities are perfect. Plus, we’ve all seen your old racially insensitive tweets. We know you’re not perfect.
The end of the trailer confirms, just in case it’s not clear, that there’s going to be lots of Camila Cabello in here. It’s unclear when filming on the doc was completed, but the majority of it was shot over 2019, and during the height of the popularity of “Señorita”, Shawn and Camila’s smash-hit duet. There was recently speculation they’d split after constant sightings of the duo at the beginning of lockdown abruptly stopped. Now that his new project’s on the way, I think Shawn just stopped quarantining with her because he needed to dive into album-release mode. Regardless, the whole end of the trailer is catnip for Shamila fans, with the singer ending on this note:
“My song comes on the radio or something, and I’m like ‘Everything’s about you. They’ve always been about you.’ She goes, ‘What do you mean?’ I’m like, ‘They’re all about you. Like, ever song I’ve ever wrote.’”
Every love song Shawn Mendes has ever written has been about Camila Cabello? Thank god the trailer’s done after that because I’ve had enough. Will I still watch the film when it hits Netflix on November 23rd. Absolutely!