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All Too Well – The Short Film (2021) Review

Taylor Swift is a singer-songwriter and an actor too! Ever since the release of her first short film All Too Well: The Short Film, Swift has added director to her list of titles. The film is based on the ten-minute version of the song ‘All Too Well’ that first appeared on the singer’s fourth album ‘Red’ released in October 2012. When she re-recorded the album titled ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’, she added the ten-minute version of the song that quickly became a fan-favorite (it is Taylor’s Favorite too) and released an accompanying Short Film on November 13!

Starring the Stranger Things star Sadie Sink, the ‘Teen Wolf’ and ‘The Maze Runner’ actor Dylan O’Brien as Her and Him respectively, and Swift (who makes a brief appearance), the roughly fifteen-minute short film is based on the storyline of the song ‘All Too Well’.

Swift’s music has always given us a peek into her personal life, her relationships and the short film does the same by detailing the beginning and the end of tumultuous young love, one with a noticeable age difference. The latter seems to be the subject of contention between the protagonists as the lyrics “You said if we had been closer in age / Maybe it would’ve been fine / And that made me want to die” also suggest the same. Both Dylan and Sadie perfectly embody the characters of the story Taylor Swift wrote and directed.

The film begins with a quote from Pablo Neruda that says: “Love is so short, forgetting is so long” which is very relevant to the storyline of the film.

The time Sadie’s character spends trying to make sense of the debris of the love that had gone wrong is definitely more than the love we see in the relationship between Him and Her.

The vulnerable creativity of Swift underlines the emotional power of her unmatched storytelling and she allows her lyrics to carry the most of the film. The early moments of ‘All Too Well – The Short Film mirror the first blush of romance, the honeymoon phase – the first beginnings of love. It also gives a visual reference to the lyrical motif of Sadie’s character leaving her scarf at O’Brien’s sister’s house and the male protagonist holding onto it even after their breakup. He is also seen wearing it at the climactic moment.

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Cinematographer Rina Yang shot the ‘All Too Well – The Short Film’ on 35mm film, and Taylor splits it into different mini acts that serve as subtle hints to the female protagonist’s future. Two of the seven acts are titled ‘The First Crack In The Glass’ and ‘The Remembering’ to not only give a dramatic effect but also to emphasize the different phases of the relationship between the protagonists.

There is an emotional scene wherein an argument takes place between the Sink and O’Brien’s characters (some may even compare it to the scene between Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson that became a meme from Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story) that has been recorded in a continuous shot. The argument comes after the male protagonist lets go of Sink’s hand during a dinner party with his friends where he also ignores her – leaving her in discomfort among a group of people older than her.

That scene is so well shot because of Sadie and Dylan’s electric acting (and chemistry throughout the film) in which the former beautifully portrays the distraught young girl with a wide-eyed gaze Taylor sings of.

Dylan captures the delightful pomposity his role demands and the cozy vibes in contrast to the intense emotions we feel is an amazing aspect to see in the film due to the stunning scene composition.

Image via IMDb

The film captures everything one could imagine and envision while listening to the ‘All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)’ all thanks to cinematographer Rina Yang and the film’s writer and director – Taylor Swift. It is so raw and evocative that you may feel the emotions that Dylan and Sadie’s characters felt who perfectly transformed into their roles displayed on the screen.

What you don’t see coming is an older version of Sadie’s character who is portrayed by Swift.

She transforms into the role of the younger actor (similar hair and everything) only much matured and poised and can be seen when the lyrics – “And I was never good at telling jokes but the punchline goes – I’ll get older but your lovers stay my age” (a pattern that is quite visible among many Hollywood actors who date women significantly younger than them) can be heard as she gets ready to see the book lovers waiting to hear her talk about her new novel very aptly titled ‘All Too Well’.

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Taylor (as Her) walks towards the audience from behind the curtains and it’s none other than the older version of Dylan’s character who looks through the windows at her success whilst wearing Her scarf. This moment can be left to viewers to interpret although it doesn’t matter because he is no longer a part of Her life so much so that Swift chooses not to show his face!

The song All Too Well never had a music video however ‘All Too Well – The Short Film’ is everything and more than the fans ever imagined! It is so loved by them that it has a fandom of its own!

Swift very skilfully blends the dialogues with the lyrics, making the viewers impatiently wonder what happens next. It immerses them into the relationship that ultimately falls apart as the emotions conveyed in the film leave you reeling from the rollercoaster of feelings and pain the female protagonist carries. The wound she carries is difficult to forget after having seen the imbalance in their relationship in which an older man gaslights a young woman and even stood Her up on her birthday.

If anything is clear after having watched ‘All Too Well – The Short Film’ it’s that Taylor Swift can translate an auditory piece on screen in a brilliant manner.

check out ‘all too well – the short film’: HERE

 

 

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