Taylor Swift makes directorial debut with “All Too Well”


Courtesy of Rappler.com

Marybeth Stanziola, Columnist

“Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by it” resonates with me as a 22-year old less than a month away from graduation more than it did as a new teenager in 2012. It feels like just yesterday I was dancing to “22” in my room, an age that felt lightyears away – now I’m living it. I’m sure many other GVSU “Swifties” relate as they’re reliving their “Red” excitement for a second time.

While all of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” has been highly anticipated since the singer announced her plan for re-recordings in 2019, it’s safe to say that the ten-minute version of “All Too Well” is the highlight for many. 

After a year of wondering if she would ever release the extended version, Taylor granted all of our wildest dreams (pun intended) by not only dropping the song, but an accompanying short film as well. Full of tension and Easter eggs alluding to the relationship it reflects, Taylor once again successfully translated her storytelling skills to video. Without ever explicitly stating who the track is about (unlike “Dear John”), she makes it more than obvious through wardrobe choices, an upstate New York setting, and most importantly, through the casting choices.

Fulfilling the roles of “Him” and “Her” are “Teen Wolf” and “Stranger Things” stars Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink. The pair drew attention not for their pre-existing fame, but for the obvious age difference between them. Their jarring eleven-year age gap was quickly tied to that of Taylor and her then boyfriend, mirroring their relationship in an uncomfortable, yet ingenious way.

O’Brien and Sink’s chemistry feels scarily natural; scenes of hand-dropping and passionate kisses, while well-acted, are purposely unnerving. As I watched the events unfold during the film’s premiere, I often found myself viewing their interactions from between my fingers. 

Each detail, from Her red lipstick and His beard-beanie combo to the scarf draped over the stairwell, played a vital role in accurately bringing “All Too Well” to life. Swift’s decision to shoot on 35mm only adds to this; the short film plays out like an old memory to Her, Taylor herself, and the fans who initially fell in love with the song almost a decade ago. 

Most people don’t have to deal with heartbreak with millions of eyes glued to their every move. Even though her relationship was riddled with publicity and invasiveness, she brings it to film through universal scenes and situations: weeping in a party bathroom, feeling alone in a room full of people, losing sight of who you are, the list goes on and on.

Known for her close-knit relationship with “Swifties,” “All Too Well” (the extended song and short film) isn’t only a present to them, but to Taylor herself. After years of speculation and mystery surrounding both the relationship and track, it finally seems as though the self-appointed hopeless romantic gets to tell her entire truth, same as Her in the short film’s closing scene.