Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well: The Short Film’ has fans happy, free, confused and lonely all at once

Last Friday, Taylor Swift released ‘All Too Well: The Short Film’ shortly after releasing her re-recording of her 2012 album ‘Red.’ The film took the audience on a whirlwind experience that explains the premise of the song.


Taylor Swift takes a selfie with fans at an appearance at a butterfly mural in the Gulch in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, April 25, 2019. (Alan Poizner/For The Tennessean)

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

Last Friday, fans were gifted the original 10-minute version of the heart-wrenching breakup song they know all too well, but the real tear-jerking release came later in the day. All Too Well: The Short Film, directed and written by Taylor Swift, left no lyric unexplored — and no fan with a dry eye.

All Too Well: The Short Film premiered last Friday at 7 p.m. at AMC 13 in New York City and on YouTube, shortly after Swift’s re-recording of Red was released.

Since its first release in 2012, All Too Well has been a fan favorite among Swifties. The song expresses a young woman’s heartbreak after a failed relationship with a man much older than her. Those who didn’t grasp the premise of the song beforehand will undoubtedly understand after watching the film.

To play the nameless couple, Swift cast Sadie Sink, known for Stranger Things, and Dylan O’Brien, known for Teen Wolf and The Maze Runner Trilogy. The two actors have an 11-year age difference, which adds to the integrity of the story conveyed.

On the Late Night Show with Seth Meyers, Swift said after coming up with the concept for the film, she couldn’t have imagined any other actors fulfilling these roles.

“If Sadie had said no, I don’t think I would’ve made it. I don’t think I would’ve made the film,” she said.

Before watching the film, this might have sounded a bit dramatic. But after? Sink and O’Brien sincerely made this film the powerful experience that it was and without them, the film just wouldn’t have been so effective.

One of the only scenes with dialogue in the film featured a fight between Sink and O’Brien’s characters about how he acted differently around his friends, and how she felt out of place. This scene was remarkable in every aspect, from Sink doing the dishes to O’Brien gaslighting her into thinking her fears were only in her head.

“I don’t think I’m making you feel that way, I think you’re making yourself feel that way,” he said in the film.

The scene ends with O’Brien’s character profusely apologizing to Sink’s character as she starts to cry.

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It’s the same feeling as an older sibling hurting their younger one and screaming “I’m sorry” over and over again before they can tell mom. I mean this in a good way — the apology was delivered desperately like she might leave without it, but with too much pride for him to have actually meant it.

Another moment worth mentioning is Sink’s character sobbing on her bed post-breakup. As embarrassing as the “ugly cry” is, Sink is far from the first girl to do so while “All Too Wellplays in the background. This scene brought a layer of authenticity the rest of the production didn’t lack, but pushed the film that much further into greatness.

From O’Brien and Sink “dancing ’round the kitchen in the refrigerator light” to featured themes of the song like the autumn season and Sink’s scarf, the actions on screen perfectly reflected Swift’s lyrics.

The film ends with Taylor Swift appearing as Sink’s character 13 years later, having written a book about the experience, titled All Too Well.

I did not see this coming, and I’m not sure if I hate or love the concept. What I do love is the older version of O’Brien’s character appearing outside, wearing the scarf from the beginning of the film. This felt like a way to address closure in a break-up like theirs, and whether it is ever truly achieved.

From beginning to end, All Too Well: The Short Film told a story I thought I already understood in a way that was much more moving than the already beyond-belief song, and had me and Taylor Swift fans everywhere laughing, crying, and watching it on repeat.