Taylor Mania: The Short Film
By Abbie Riglin, Contributor
To fully understand the grip “All Too Well” has on ‘Swifties’ (Taylor Swift fans), it is important to learn about the lore around both the song and the album. Supposedly, Red tells the real-life story of Swift’s experiences dating Jake Gyllenhaal and forever coining the scarf as an act of thievery with the lines “left my scarf there at your sister’s house/And you’ve still got it in your drawer even now.” The scarf gets another mention later on in the song, hence the hang up on it. Even so, one of the biggest call-outs on Red towards alleged Gyllenhaal might be Swift mentioning him not showing up to her birthday party on “The Moment I Knew” and the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.”
All in all, Gyllenhaal has given us three tips to ensure there won’t be a breakup song about you: give their stuff back, show up when you’ve promised to, and don’t be a jerk. Should be easy, right?
Swift has been co-directing her own music videos since her 2010 hit “Mine” and she also took a stab at solo directing just last year with her release of “The Man.” All Too Well: The Short Film offers us our first glance at her talent in directing a larger project, one that not only focuses on the scenes unfolding along with the song, but also an emotional dialogue interlude. Even though this is her first major directorial project, Swift has received praise both in her fanbase and in the film world, and lots of this has to do with the moving performances executed by her all-star leading couple.
Dylan O’Brien, former Teen Wolf star plays “Him” and Sadie Sink, Stranger Things star plays “Her.” These two lead the intimate short film as a couple struggling to navigate their budding relationship. Simply put, it’s due to them being very diffrent people (give her the scarf back, Jake). The couple struggles due to him being shallow, dismissive and a gaslighter.
The emotions shown between Sink and O’Brien are raw and beautiful, perfectly captured by lighting that goes from warm to cool tones to show their turbulent relationship. Throughout the film, close-ups are used to show intimate moments, making it all feel vulnerable and almost as if you’re there.
Throughout the 15-minute short film, seven stages of the relationship are shown through chapter interludes. The beginning, “An Upstate Escape,” starts with her being captivated by him. It then moves to a trip of them together, where they’re happy and seemingly infatuated with each other.
The next chapter titled “The First Crack In The Glass” switches between a dinner party where she sits at the end of the table ignored and a scene where he gets out of the car, throws his keys at her and gets into a heated phone call while glaring at her.
They seem to reconcile in the car, but the audience is then treated to a moving dialogue scene between O’Brien and Sink where they argue about his actions at dinner where he dropped her hand.
“Are You Real?” shows the final bittersweet moment where they got to be ‘in love,’ although according to Swift’s lyrics, he never admitted it as that. “The Breaking Point” shows him calm and stoic as he breaks up with her, which moves onto “The Reeling” and “The Remembering‘’ where she is left to be upset, remembering all the times they had where she thought they were more.
“Thirteen Years Gone,” a concluding epilogue, shows her, now played by a red-headed Swift, years later having written a book on the whole experience. The book is a big success and he stares from the outside, his face not shown, wearing her scarf.
Overall, Sink and O’Brien offer extremely moving performances, giving further depth into the song that has been my personal heartbreak anthem for almost a decade (high school sucks, okay?). But the film offers insight into many beautiful moments couples can experience and exploding breaking moments we know all too well.