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  • Writer's pictureAva Taylor

Reviewing All Too Well: The Short Film by Taylor Swift

It is no secret that Taylor Swift is one of the most talented songwriters of our generation and that her ability to tell stories and experiences through lyrics and melodies is unmatched. For example, her song ‘All Too Well’ perfectly portrays the loss, love, and complications of a public relationship, the heartbreaks of poor communication, but also the bittersweet nostalgia of what once was an alive connection between two people.

The song is most famously about her relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal; the two dated back in 2010 when Swift was 19 and Gyllenhaal was 30; the outcome of their relationship was her album ‘Red’. After a reclamation of her own music (due to her masters being sold), Swift re-released ‘Red’ naming it ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’. Not only did the album have the re-recorded songs from the original album, it also had nine other songs “from the vault”. One of which included a 10 minute version of ‘All Too Well’ that had new lyrics.

Along with the re-release of ‘Red’, Swift directed a short film based off of her relationship with Gyllenhaal called ‘All Too Well: The Short Film’. Younger Taylor Swift is played by Stranger Things actress Sadie Sink and younger Jake Gyllenhaal is played by Teen Wolf actor Dylan O’Brien. The Short Film directly brought an in-depth look at the effects their relationship had on Swift. The details of the film made the experience extremely realistic, from the shape of O'Brien’s beard all the way to the type of phone he used.

(From left to right) Dylan O’Brien, Taylor Swift, and Sadie Sink picture above

Another important component is the use of parallels between the song and the film. They are essential in order to convey the emotions that Swift experienced during the relationship. For example the lyric “I walked through the door with you, the air was cold, but something about it felt like home somehow and I left my scarf at your sister’s house and you still got it, in your drawer even now” corresponds with the scene of Sink walking through a door with O’Brien and leaving her scarf on the stairs of his sister’s house.

Plotwise, All Too Well: The Short Film encapsulates both the joyous times and red flags that unravel as the relationship progresses. The film was broken up into chapters: ‘An Upstate Escape’, ‘The First Crack in the Glass’, ‘Are You Real?’, ‘The Breaking Point’, ‘The Reeling’,‘The Remembering’, and ‘Thirteen Years Gone’.

Scene from ‘All Too Well: The Short Film’

The climax of the relationship happens over a course of around 3 years; just to depict that duration of overcoming the pain and the trauma that the relationship brought. Having already gotten the storytelling from the song, it was an interesting visual interpretation by Swift. Not only does she include her perspective, but she also includes the other person's point of view in order to somewhat understand both sides of the story.

Taylor Swift’s detailed songwriting did not get “lost in translation” when directing All Too Well: The Short Film. In fact, it proved that she has the ability to beautifully tell a story no matter what forms it takes. Her decision to cast the actors who played herself and Gyllenhaal was accurately matched; both Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien are extremely gifted actors that contributed to the rollercoaster of emotions that all Swifties experienced while watching the short film.

Not only did the film answer a lot of questions that fans had, but it also left more mysteries. → Did Swift write the “new” lyrics of ‘All Too Well’ in 2010 or in 2021? Was the short film an accurate depiction of the events that occurred during her and Gyllenhaal’s relationship?

I highly recommend not only listening to ‘All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault) and Red (Taylor’s Version), but I also recommend watching All Too Well: The Short Film. It is the perfect album to listen to when feeling happy, free, confused, or lonely.

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