“All Too Well:” The Short Film

The debut film installment by Taylor Swift

Photo Courtesy / Youtube Taylor Swift 
Photo Design / Andrea Rivas

Photo Courtesy / Youtube Taylor Swift Photo Design / Andrea Rivas

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift debuted her first-ever film, “All Too Well: The Short Film” on Nov. 12. Swift based this short story on original lyrics from her song “All Too Well,” released in her 2012 album “Red.” The film premiered the same day at the AMC Theaters at Lincoln Square, New York City. 

 “All Too Well” has always been a fan-favorite and has been called Swift’s best song. Although not released as a single and had no music video, this song still resonated with fans upon the release of “Red.” It touched their hearts and it has become a classic for Swifties.

The short film is a rollercoaster of emotions from beginning to end. The story dives in-depth into a relationship that brought so much joy and romance, but ended in at least one broken heart—her own. It resembles the details of a first romantic encounter with someone. The first time you had ever experienced love, not just the idea of it, and the painful moments of heartbreak because you know it was once passionate and delicate, but it hurts because you remember it.

The film features two characters called Him and Her who are portrayed by Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, with Her later on being performed by Swift herself.

This short film showcases a young girl falling in love with someone older than her. It is a type of relationship where it all went away — the love that was once there was overshadowed by doubt and questioning. You are left hoping one day it will be fixed, but deep down knowing it is broken beyond repair. 

The 15-minute story consists of seven chapters: “An Upstate Escape,” “The First Crack in the Glass,” “Are You Real?” “The Breaking Point,” “The Reeling,” “The Remembering” and “Thirteen Years Gone.”

“All Too Well: The Short Film” opens with a literary quote from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda: “Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” It then shows a couple laying in bed, her mesmerized by Him. They both drive upstate to his sister’s house, where she forgets her scarf. Everything is a visual representation of a love affair portrayed in fairy tales and romance books.

 Their relationship takes a turn when he starts to ignore and dismiss her. They begin to experience the complex parts of love; they fight and end up in tears. Then for a while, everything is right as they dance around the kitchen in the refrigerator light, until it all crumbles as he ends the relationship leaving her heartbroken and blindsided. 

Their performances were brilliant, especially in the heartfelt scenes. Through the screen I could feel their emotions, even with barely any dialogue, their facial expressions and movements gave it away as they embodied this couple through their ups and downs. It was wonderful to see these two actors bring this story to life. This short film was emotional and it was exciting to see all the different aspects of love: how it changes over time and how powerful it is. At the very end, when Taylor appears on screen, her character at the time symbolized a person who has moved on and accepted everything as it happened, however, it took time to mend the scars. This was my favorite scene in the short film because it showed how you can move on and be happy but the memory still remains fresh in your head. The way the scene was shot––with the camera following her without revealing her face––at first glance, gave a sense of mystery and it kept things interesting. 

The film fast-forwards to 13 years later when she has become an author and is launching her novel titled “All Too Well.” She reads it aloud to her fans in a bookstore while he stands outside in the snow. Through the window, he is seen wearing the scarf she forgot at his sister’s house 13 years ago.

This short film was a replica of the story told in the song “All Too Well” and what I envisioned in my head. Swift did an incredible job turning her lyrics into these images that showcase this tumultuous love affair. She truly transcended her raw emotions from her lyrics to the screen. Her cinematography and set matched with feelings of this song, including the long shots focusing only on the actors while they demonstrated their acting skills and on-screen chemistry.  

This song has a special place in my heart and truly embodies the powerful meaning of writing because it represents how wonderful it is to find love and how devastating it is to lose it. It’s like an echo in your head as you relive every moment you’ve had, every dance in the middle of the night, every gust of wind, every laugh and every cry. That moment when you were driving upstate singing or the one you spent the whole night waiting for the one person to show up. That one casually cruel phone call and that scarf that was forgotten just for that person to find, hoping someday they remember it all. Swift sings at the end of the short film, “Did this love affair maim you all too well?” People say you never forget your first love and this short film showcases it all too well.