Taylor Swift fans might be OK, but not exactly fine at all, after watching the short film based on one of her most emotional songs.
After releasing the re-recording of her 2012 album, Red, Thursday night, Swift surprised fans with a short film to accompany the original 10-minute version of her revered song “All Too Well.” The film, written and directed by Swift, stars Starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink. It was shot on 35mm stock with Rina Yang as cinematographer.
In the short, which is introduced with a Pablo Neruda quote that reads, “Love is so short; forgets is so long,” Swift chronicles the rise and fall of a relationship between O’Brien and Sink’s characters. The film opens with Sink asking O’Brien, “Are you for real? … I just feel like maybe I made you up.” In a montage, the film recounts the couple’s relationship from their blissful moments of new love to “the first crack in the glass.” In one scene, the music stops playing as O’Brien and Sink’s characters have a heated argument in which Sink’s character expresses frustration and hurt that he acted differently with her when in the company of his friends, ignored her and, at one point, even dropped her hand. After they break up, the film follows Sink as she mourns the loss of the relationship.
Toward the end of the film, Swift appears as a grown-up version of Sink’s character, as she speaks at an event to promote her debut novel, All Too Well. The film finishes with a somber O’Brien watching from afar while wearing her scarf.
The film also features a cameo by Shawn Levy.
Swift was joined by O’Brien and Sink at the premiere of the short film at New York City’s AMC Lincoln Center theater.
“From start to finish, this has just been a surreal experience,” Sink said. “I’m so glad we finally get to share this with everyone, and I hope you all enjoyed.” O’Brien also praised Swift for being “a genius” and “the most beautiful person ever.”
Swift has described “All Too Well” — long speculated to be about her previous relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal — as one of the more difficult songs to write. While speaking about the song on Rolling Stone’s podcast Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, Swift said she recorded the song when she felt like “a broken human” and “terrible about what was going on” in her personal life.
“I just ended up playing four chords over and over again, and the band started kicking in. … I think they could tell I was really going through it,” she said.
Though the song wasn’t a single after the album’s original release, Swift has acknowledged that it has taken a life of its own among fans.
Before performing the song during her Netflix concert special, Reputation Stadium Tour, Swift explained that the fans helped transform the standout track into something “different” for her. “This song has two lives to it in my brain. In my brain, there’s the life of this song was born out of catharsis and venting and trying to get over something or trying to understand it and process it. And then there’s the life where it went out into the world, and you turned this song into something completely different for me. You turned this song into a collage of memories of watching you scream the words to this song,” Swift said.
During a Thursday appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers to discuss her new version of Red, Swift said it’s been “really nice to be able to put this album out and not be sad. Not be, like, taking breaks in between interviews to cry,” recalling how she felt at the time of the original’s release. “I’m telling you, it’s much better this way.”
Earlier this year, Swift also debuted Fearless (Taylor’s Version) which included unreleased songs and new collaborations. When the rerecorded Red was teased on social media, the singer revealed that the new version “will be the first time you hear all 30 songs that were meant to go on Red.” For this album’s songs “from the vault,” Swift included collaborations with Chris Stapleton, Phoebe Bridgers and Ed Sheeran. She also included her renditions of “Better Man” and “Babe,” songs she penned that were eventually recorded by Little Big Town and Sugarland, respectively.
Red marks Swift’s second rerecorded album. The singer has confirmed that she will rerecord her entire early discography, which includes Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012), 1989 (2014) and 2017’s Reputation, to offset the controversial $300 million purchase of Swift’s old label, Big Machine Records, by Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holding. Swift owns the masters to her Lover, Folklore and Evermore albums, which were released under her new deal with Republic Records and Universal Music Group, and now the recent Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version).