All Too Well Short Film Review

Story posted 6 days ago in Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D’Ovidio.

Following the release of her second re-recording “Red (Taylor’s Version),” Taylor Swift released her directorial debut “All Too Well: The Short Film” on YouTube.

This 15-minute short film features Swift’s highly anticipated “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” as the soundtrack for the film. Both written and directed by Swift, many believe this film looks into the relationship “All Too Well” was written about.

“All Too Well: The Short Film” stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. Their characters are not given legitimate names, credited as playing Her and Him, respectively.

Swift also appears at the end of the film playing the older version of Sinks character in a flash-forward, credited as Her, later on.

The plot of the film follows this relationship from its happy beginning to its tragic ending.

Swift structures the film with seven chapters. These names appear at the beginning of each scene that displays pivotal moments in the relationship. The chapters: “An Upstate Escape,” “The First Crack In The Glass,” “Are You Real?” “The Breaking Point,” “The Reeling,” “The Remembering” and “13 Years Later.”

The chapters help the viewers understand the relationship’s timeline; there is very little dialogue. The fact that Sink and O’Brien can tell this story with only one legitimate talking scene is a testament to both of their acting ability.

The dialogue scene occurs during the second chapter, “The First Crack In The Glass.” Sinks character is upset at the was O’Brien’s ignored her at dinner with his friends.

This perfectly portrays the manipulative relationship between Her and Him. O’Brien’s character completely gaslights Sink’s as the two fight and then resolve their issues momentarily.

Both Sink and O’Brien do a phenomenal job in this scene and throughout the entire film. Especially Sink, who has to play a character grieving her lost relationship as the film progresses.

The way Swift crafts this story is elegant, illuminating the beautiful and romantic sides of the relationship. It also highlights how brutal the fallout of the relationship can be.

Viewers watching Sink become entirely shattered by her relationship ending, while O’Brien’s character seems to only become regretful in the “13 Years Later” chapter.

Swift’s directorial debut was highly successful. She was able to tell this story through her songwriting from the soundtrack and through choices in lighting and cinematography that were so expertly done.

This shouldn’t come as a shock, especially Taylor Swift fans. Swift has left easter eggs and hints in past projects to tease future ones throughout her entire career. Whether it’s in music videos, interviews, lyrics, or photoshoots, Swift has rarely done anything in her career on accident.

This translated excellently to her directing as Swift has a talent for paying close attention to detail.

Throughout the short film, O’Brien’s character is consistently shot in scenes with a cool tone while Sink’s is portrayed in warm tones, symbolizing the apathetic Him and the loving Her.

The cinematography spinning around the couple as they are seen kissing for the first time by the viewers helps visualize the exciting new love the couple has found.

When the couple is fighting in “The Breaking Point” chapter, the shot focuses on Sink, barely getting O’Brien in the shot, emphasizing that Sinks’ character is willing to fight for the relationship. At the same time, O’Brien is trying to get out of it.

The casting choices by Swift are also no mistake.

Sink is 19 years old and recently found mainstream success in the hit show “Stranger Things,” where she portrays a teenager younger than her actual age.

O’Brien is 30, and while he remains a successful actor, he was in his prime playing teenagers in projects such as “Maze Runner,” which was released seven years ago.

Before viewers even googled the ages of these actors, people were uncomfortable by the age gap between the two.

This was no accident as the relationship “All Too Well” is largely theorized to be based on is Swift’s relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal. Swift was 20, and Gyllenhaal was 29. Even though both were adults, the gap is still uncomfortable.

Whether or not “All Too Well” is about Gyllenhaal, lyrics from “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” make explicit that the subject of the song was significantly older than Swift and utilized that to make a power imbalance in the relationship.

In an age where viewers are much more aware of the actor’s persona outside of their projects, casting is more important now than it ever was. Swift’s decision to cast actors that she knew would elicit a response before the short film was even released.

“All Too Well: The Short Film” was a risk. When first announced, it seemed like this short film would just be a glorified music video for a 10-minute-long song.

However, the way the film was shot along with the compelling performances from Sink and O’Brien, “All Too Well: The Short Film” proves itself to be much more than an extended music video.

It’s dramatic and heartwrenching and not only captures the pain from “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” but enhances the emotions the track brings out in the listener.

The entire “Red (Taylor’s Version)” release has been a considerable success that highlights Swift’s artistry, and “All Too Well: The Short Film” is a massive part of this triumph.

With four more albums left for Swift to re-record and Swift claiming to have been listening to her fans about which songs deserve videos, fans can only hope for more like “All Too Well: The Short Film” as Swift continues her re-recording process.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year majoring in communications. To contact her email sgd5184@psu.edu.