Reds adorn the spaces within All Too Well: The Short Film. If one forgets everything else about the film, the array of reds will likely remain indelible. The 15-minute film, made to the tune of All Too Well (10-minute version), is the apotheosis of Taylor Swift’s discography, lore and fandom. Here is our review and explanation of the film, written and directed by Swift.
Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien play Her and Him in a romance always meant to wither away. The film narrates the story within the song. The scarf, now the stuff of legend, shows up early on. In the film, it is a vivid red, wrapped around Her red hair. They are in upstate New York. It is autumn. Browns, reds and greens flit around each other in a delicious melange of warm hues. A 4:3 aspect ratio and the whole thing is the picture of warm reminiscence.
The visuals generally closely follow the song’s lyrics, but where the lyrics are self-aware and know their fate from the beginning, the visuals start out with an emotionally linear narrative. She and He are in love. Everything is perfect. She cannot believe he is for real. Sink plays the wide-eyed girl with an authentic charm that blends just right with O’Brien’s much older man so that when the conflicts show up later, the progression feels natural. The arc is dissected into seven segments. Their drive upstate is followed by the second, The First Crack In The Glass. Dinner with His friends. She is barely 21, She knows no one. He ignores Her throughout the evening. When confronted with this (the song pauses for the argument), His playful cherishing of Her sours into wounding dismissal. The writing highlights their incompatibility through the fight, and His willingness to use Her young age against Her. Their age gap comes with an inherent imbalance in power, which He has no interest in rectifying. And which, of course, makes His fuck the patriarchy keychain laughable.
The music returns. It is not long before their heady romance–spinning camera and all–peters out into dismal emptiness. Reeling with the grief, she takes to writing on a red typewriter. Heartbreak and remembrance intertwine in the immediate aftermath, but thirteen years go by and it has all culminated into a book. A red-haired Swift appears in a cameo as the older Her now. Swift’s appearance works like affirmation of hard-earned growth and grace. Jake Lyon plays the older Him. He looks on silently through the glass window at her book reading, her red scarf wrapped around his neck.
All Too Well fits well with some of Swift’s more recent works, and the film portrays this maturing towards the end. It shows with lyrical clarity the shift from love to heartbreak to coping with the kind of grief that does not heal so much as it leaves large scars as its keepsake.
Watch All Too Well Short Film by Taylor Swift
All Too Well: The Short Film: The Function Of Remembrance In Growing