With the re-release of her fourth album, “Red,” Taylor Swift gave the Swifties more than they could have ever imagined. “Red (Taylor’s Version),” not only gave fans new recordings of the original 20 songs from the album, but also seven never-heard-before songs that Taylor had written for the album’s initial release. Among these seven was the long-anticipated 10-minute version of “All Too Well.”
One thing no one was expecting was the release of a short film written and directed by Swift herself to accompany this heart-wrenching 10-minute song. “All Too Well: The Short Film,” starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink, was met with a lot of joy and anticipation by eager fans. In the short time the film has been out, dedicated Swifties have already begun attempting to decode it and pick out any and all Easter eggs, slashing together whatever crazy theories they can about what Taylor may be up to next.
The short film, acting as a music video, managed to turn what already was a heart-wrenching track into an absolutely soul-crushing experience. The short film follows the story of Dylan and Sadie’s characters’ relationship, named in the credits simply as “Him” and “Her.” Throughout the film, we see the two being in love, fighting, falling apart, and inevitably breaking up. The film features very little dialogue and is mainly just scenes backed by the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” That being said, all of the scenes from the short film are full of emotion and don’t require dialogue for the viewer to understand what is going on.
The first bit of dialogue in the short film is right at the start, and has Sadie’s character asking Dylan’s character if he’s real. This conversation is included to show how in love Sadie’s character is, to the point where she can’t believe he is a real person. The next bit of dialogue arises about halfway through the short film and follows a dinner party with Dylan’s character’s friends. During the dinner party scene, Dylan’s character drops Sadie’s character’s hand when she tries to hold his hand in front of his friends. This leads to a very explosive argument between the two in which Dylan’s character minimizes how Sadie’s character is feeling and gaslights her.
The story told in the short film shows just how devastating a romantic loss can be, even if it didn’t last all that long. Not only that, but the relationship between the two characters in the short film serves to make the feelings of sadness that “All Too Well” elicits all the more prominent. The thing about “All Too Well” is that most people have their own person they think of when they hear it, and the short film does a good job of drawing out the memories of that person and capitalizing on the feelings of anger and sadness that may be left over from the relationship with said person. The lack of dialogue throughout the short film also adds to this, specifically in the scenes where the two are talking and we can’t hear what they are saying. We are prompted to imagine what they would be saying based on our own experiences with heartbreak, further allowing the short film to hit a little too close to home. “All Too Well” is what one makes of it, and to an extent, the same is true for the short film. As a result, the film takes what is already one of the saddest tunes to exist and turns it into nothing short of a soul-crushing experience.