All Too Well: The Short Film
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|All Too Well: The Short Film|
|Directed by||Taylor Swift|
|Written by||Taylor Swift|
|Based on||"All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)" by Taylor Swift|
|Produced by||Saul Germaine|
|Edited by||Ted Guard|
All Too Well: The Short Film is an American romantic drama short film written and directed by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was produced by Saul Projects and Taylor Swift Productions, and distributed by PolyGram Entertainment, Republic Records, and Universal Pictures. Titled after Swift's 2012 song "All Too Well", the film is based on the premise of the song's 10-minute version and stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O'Brien as a romantic couple whose up-and-down relationship ultimately falls apart, with a brief appearance by Swift at the end. It was released to YouTube on November 12, 2021, alongside Swift's second re-recorded album, Red (Taylor's Version).
The film premiered at the AMC Theatres at Lincoln Square, New York City, on November 12 as well, and received a limited theatrical release in major cities. It opened to positive reviews from critics, who praised the direction, cinematography, and Sink's performance.
All Too Well: The Short Film opens with a literary quote from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda: "Love is so short, forgetting is so long". The film chronicles the relationship of two doomed lovers, Her and Him, compounded by an age gap. American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift's 2021 song "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" plays throughout the film, except during a dialogued conflict between Her and Him. The 15-minute film is divided into seven chapters—"An Upstate Escape", "The First Crack 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.
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. Him starts to distance himself from Her when she needs him, eventually 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. 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. She has become an author and is celebrating the release of her novel All Too Well, presumably detailing the heartache of her early twenties, 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 13 years ago.
- Sadie Sink as Her
- Taylor Swift as Her, Later On
- Dylan O'Brien as Him[a]
- Jake Lyon as Him, Later On
- Shawn Levy as Her's father
Background and production
Swift announced her second re-recorded album, Red (Taylor's Version), a re-recording of Swift's fourth studio album Red (2012), for release on November 12, 2021. It contains both the re-recorded version of the fan-favorite track "All Too Well" and its 10-minute-long, uncut version as a bonus track "from the vault". All Too Well: The Short Film is a dramatized account of the incidents and dynamics of the relationship described in the song. Swift said the film was an expression of her gratitude to her fans for their reception to the song over the years.
On November 11, 2021, Swift revealed via her social media accounts that All Too Well: The Short Film was shot in 35 mm film format by cinematographer Rina Yang. On a Late Night with Seth Meyers episode on November 12, Swift stated she cast Sink and O'Brien because they were the only two people she imagined playing the roles. Swift added that she is a huge fan of O'Brien's works and that she would not have proceeded with making the film had Sink turned down the offer. Swift explained, "I like working with friends or people who I think would be excited about working with me. I've never made a short film before. I needed to reach out to people who would maybe believe that I was capable with it. I'm just blown away by what [Sink and O'Brien] did—they went out and left it all on the field". Swift further revealed that Sink and O'Brien "were so electric and [improvising] a lot of what they were doing that we just couldn't take the camera off [them]".
On November 5, 2021, Good Morning America revealed a teaser for a short film written and directed by Swift, titled All Too Well, based on the song. The teaser featured a vintage car driving down on a quiet road surrounded by autumnal trees, as well as the names of the cast members.
The film's world premiere took place on November 12 at the AMC Theatres in Lincoln Square, New York City with an audience that included Swift, Sink, O'Brien, friends of Swift, journalists, critics, and handpicked fans. Swift performed "All Too Well (10 minute version)" in the theatre after the screening. The film was later released on the same day on YouTube, 19 hours after the album's release at midnight, and was followed the next day with a performance of the song by Swift on a season 47 episode of Saturday Night Live.
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 the film underscores "the emotional power of her storytelling" with a "devastating" cinematography. The Hollywood Reporter's Lexy Perez opined that All Too Well: The Short Film chronicles "the rise and fall of a relationship" between the lead characters, exploring the couple's first "blissful moments of new love" till their downfall and separation.
Shane Romanchick of Collider wrote, "This is a film that recontextualizes how relationships, through all their painful and rose-colored moments, help us grow to be better people. Even though the other person may have hurt us in an unforgivable way, we would not be the same if we did not have that experience to learn from. The bittersweet ending of this particular somber tale reminds us that the other person might have gone through the same revelation as well". Karl Quinn, in his review for The Sydney Morning Herald, complimented the "gorgeously cliched Notebook-style" screenplay, Swift's direction, and the "finely tuned" performances of Sink and O'Brien. Film critic Steve Pulaski said All Too Well: The Short Film is "a bold, brilliant work that illustrates the ongoing maturation of Swift as more than a singer-songwriter" and dubbed her "an impeccably gifted storyteller with her detail-oriented narratives". He also praised Rina Yang's "gorgeous autumnal" cinematography.
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