Fans of Taylor Swift were blessed recently as new content was released left and right. On Nov. 11, Swift had back-to-back appearances on two late-night shows, and on Nov. 12, Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version),” her second re-released album. Along with the music, Swift released her first-ever film later on Nov. 12, “All Too Well: The Short Film.”
The short film is a brutally honest depiction of the heartbreak experienced in her song “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).” The vulnerable 10-minute track was released with the new album and gave fans fresh details of the tragic love story portrayed in the song. The almost 15-minute short film serves as a music video for the longer song and was written and directed by Swift.
From every angle, Swift’s first filmography project seems to be a success. The actors, Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, were expertly selected to play the roles of a 20-year-old Swift and her love interest, who is rumored to be Jake Gyllenhaal. Not only do they resemble both Swift and Gyllenhaal, but selecting a fan favorite like O’Brien aided in building immeasurable excitement for Swift fans.
The short film starts out with a quote from Pablo Neruda, “Love is so short, forgetting is so long,” which encapsulates the essence of the film and accompanying song. The video does an excellent job of taking viewers from the beginning to the end of the story Swift is telling. You see the couple go from the whimsy of new love to their first trials as a couple to the inevitable heartbreak, ending with Swift going through the forgetting and healing process.
The post-breakup scenes are where Sink displays her incredible acting skills. From shots of her crying alone in her bedroom to feeling lonely at parties, the audience is able to truly feel the pain she is experiencing. Between the powerful visuals and emotional lyrics from Swift, the short film puts you in her place for a multidimensional encounter with heartbreak and grieving a lost love.
The visuals of the film serve a subtle vintage ambiance offset by autumn warmth and creative camera angles that draw the audience into the intimate affair. The video is framed to appear as if you are watching the story unfold through an old square television set. The colors are muted, which adds to the vintage setting as well as the melancholy atmosphere of the film. Even the featured car, a 1989 Mercedes-Benz S-class that the couple is seen driving and fighting in, serves as both a nod to Swift’s “1989” album as well as a fluid and classic setting for the couple to both fall in and out of love in. All the retro aspects promote Swift’s “From The Vault” attribution that the new songs receive.
Toward the end of the film, Swift makes her appearance. She is red-headed, like Sink, and portrays her older self 13 years later. Instead of a Grammy-winning artist, she portrays a writer releasing her book titled “All Too Well.” At the book release, the male character watches her through the window, wearing her scarf, which Swift details him still having at the beginning of the song with the lyrics “And I left my scarf there at your sister’s house / And you’ve still got it in your drawer, even now.”
The ending introduces the narrative that you can never really forget true love. After all this time, the two characters still think about each other and remember all the aspects of their love “all too well.” It wraps up the story and shows a confident Swift powering through her heartbreak and creating success for herself, much like her real life.
With both the short film and the 10-minute song, fans are finally able to hear and watch Swift’s full version of the story she tried to tell back in 2012 when the “Red” album was originally released. She displays her incredible artistry, not only with music but also with film. Even with “old” music, Swift is still able to craft a beautifully told story that is true to herself and engaging in new ways.