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All Too Well (The Short Film)

Short Film | November 12, 2021

All Too Well (The Short Film) is a romantic drama short film written and directed by Taylor. Titled after her 2012 song “All Too Well“, it is an adaptation of the song’s 10-minute version, starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien as a romantic couple whose up-and-down relationship ultimately falls apart, with a brief appearance from Taylor. The film was released on November 12, 2021, alongside Taylor’s second re-recorded album, RED (Taylor’s Version).
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Background and Production

Taylor released her second re-recorded album, RED (Taylor’s Version), a re-recording of her fourth studio album RED (2012), on November 12, 2021. It contains the re-recorded version of the fan-favorite track “All Too Well”, and its original 10-minute version as a bonus track “from the vault”.

On November 11, 2021, Taylor revealed via her social media accounts that All Too Well (The Short Film) was shot in 35mm film format by cinematographer Rina Yang. On a Late Night with Seth Meyers episode on November 12, she then stated she casted Sink and O’Brien because they were the only two people she imagined playing the roles:

«It was wonderful working with Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. I’m blown away by what they did. I wrote this short film and wanted to direct it and the only two people I imagined playing the two characters were Sadie and Dylan. If Sadie had said no, I don’t think I would’ve made it. I would’ve been like, ‘This is a sign.’ I do like working with friends, or people who I think would be excited about working with me. I don’t really want to convince someone — I’m not very interested in that at all. I’ve never made a short film before. I’ve done some music videos, but I needed to reach out to people who would maybe believe I’d be capable. Sadie got it immediately, Dylan was like, ‘Yep!’ I watch everything he’s in, I’m a huge fan! And they just went all out and left it all on the field there. They just really acted their asses off.»

Taylor Swift
Both Dylan and Sadie have openly supported Taylor for years. At the premiere, Dylan thanked Taylor, saying: “Taylor, you are a genius and the most beautiful person of all time. I’m still recovering, I can’t believe it. Thank you for allowing me to be part of this.” He added:

«I couldn't believe she wanted me to be a part of it. It's an honor. I knew what this meant to her and the fans, and one of them too, so to be a part of this is so special. I still can't believe it, I keep forgetting I'm in it!»

Dylan O'Brien
Taylor sent Dylan a novella-length text message asking him to appear in the short film and he agreed without hesitation. She told Bustle in 2022: “Dylan was my first choice for the ‘All Too Well’ short film because he has that versatility I was looking for. I’d seen his work and heard nothing but wonderful things about him as a person. Ultimately, I want to work with people who love what they do and come at it with enthusiasm, because that’s how I approach creating things too. I had a feeling he would be great at ad libbing and adding nuance to his character, which enriched the story tenfold. He absolutely blew me away and I feel really lucky that I gained such a great friend from the experience too.” Sadie Sink told Glamour in June 2022:

«Taylor is someone I’ve always wanted to work with, but never thought I would because I didn’t think our paths would ever cross. She’s such an incredible human being, so smart and so grounded. To have her as a friend, as a director, as a mentor and to be able to bring such an iconic song to life was just an honour.»

Sadie Sink

Release

On November 5, 2021, Good Morning America revealed a teaser for a short film written and directed by Taylor, titled All Too Well (The Short Film), based on the song. The teaser showed a vintage car driving down on a road surrounded by autumnal trees, and its cast consisting of Taylor, American actress Sadie Sink, and American actor Dylan O’Brien.

The film’s world premiere took place on November 12 at the AMC Theatres in Lincoln Square, New York City. Introducing the movie, Taylor said: “This was a song that started off as a song on the album — just a simple track five. It started off as a song that was my favorite. It was about something very personal to me. It was very hard to perform it live. Now, for me, honestly, this song is 100 percent about us and for you.” The short film was released on YouTube on November three hours later and was screened at the AMC Theatres in Lincoln Square for the following week.

Synopsis

All Too Well (The Short Film) opens with the same literary quote from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda that Taylor used to introduce the original RED album in 2012: “Love is so short, forgetting is so long”. The film chronicles the relationship of two doomed lovers, Her and Him, soundtracked by Taylor’s 2021 song “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)“. The 15-minute film consists of seven chapters: “An Upstate Escape”, The First Cracks In The Glass”, “Are You Real?”, “The Breaking Point”, “The Reeling”, “The Remembering” and the epilogue “Thirteen Years Gone”, each of which represent a formative period in the relationship of Her and Him.

Plot

The story starts with the couple lying in bed together, Her mesmerized by Him. They travel to upstate New York, where she leaves her red scarf at a house belonging to his sister. Their relationship takes a turn at a dinner party, where Him ignores his girlfriend as he is busy catching up with his friends. They fight afterwards; Him is arrogant and dismissive, while a distraught Her is heartbroken but still wants to stay with Him. He apologizes and kisses her to end the argument, and they dance in the refrigerator light. Eventually, Him starts to not be there for Her when she needs him, leading to Him breaking up with Her. A devastated Her weeps in bed, ignoring his phone calls. A montage shows Her alone at parties and miserable on her 21st birthday. At the movie’s premiere, Taylor said:

«When you’re 19 or 20 you've got this unique moment in life when you have one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood. It was really important to me to tell and show that story with an actress like Sadie who is so incredibly prolifically talented.»

Taylor Swift
Him’s life carries on as he walks alone down a Brooklyn street, recalling some of the happier moments in his relationship with Her. The film then jumps 13 years into the future. Her has become an author (now portrayed by Taylor) and is celebrating the release of her novel All Too Well, presumably detailing the heartache of her early twenties, by reading it out to an audience of fans in a packed bookstore. Outside, an older Him watches Her through the window, wearing the same scarf she had abandoned years earlier.

Critical Reception

Variety critic Ramin Setoodeh dubbed the short film “a music video on steroids meets a Noah Baumbach movie.” Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone called it a “dramatic and moving” film that “digs deep into heartache and scarf lore.” Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Jessica Derschowitz and Jason Lamphier stated All Too Well (The Short Film) depicts a blooming romance, and “how fractured it is before it eventually falls apart.” Rhian Daly of NME said it underscores “the emotional power of her storytelling” with a “devastating” cinematography.

Accolades

The film and its production designer Ethan Tobman won the ADG Excellence in Production Design Award for “Short Format: Webseries and Music Video” at the 2022 edition. The short film was also nominated for the “Global Spotlight Award” at the Short Shorts & Asia Film Festival & Asia 2022. It is the largest international short film festival in Asia, accredited by the The Academy.

Tribeca Festival

Taylor is set to appear at 2022’s Tribeca Festival to talk about All Too Well (The Short Film). On May 2, organizers announced that she is set for a special screening of the short film — which she directed, wrote, produced and starred in — at the esteemed festival. The screening will be followed by a conversation with Taylor about her process and approach as a filmmaker.

In Popular Culture

Publications have described the short film as one of the biggest newsmakers and pop culture moments of 2021. Canadian singer Michael Bublé, in the music video for his 2022 single “I’ll Never Not Love You,” referenced and recreated iconic “love scenes” from various movies with his wife, Luisana Lopilato; it included All Too Well (The Short Film), with Bublé as Him and Lopilato as Her.

Watch All Too Well (The Short Film)

General Information
Associated SongAll Too Well (10 Minute Version)
ReleasedNovember 12, 2021
Directed byTaylor Swift
Written byTaylor Swift
Produced byTaylor Swift
Saul Germaine
Running Time14:56
Distributed byPolyGram Entertainment
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
CinematographyRina Yang
Edited byTed Guard
Production CompanyTaylor Swift Productions
StarringSadie Sink (Her)
Dylan O’Brien (Him)
Taylor Swift (Her, Later On)
Shawn Levy (Her’s Father)
Trailer
The Cast
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(10 Minute Version)

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