From the moment my sister told me there was going to be an All Too Well short film to then hearing her words “starring Dylan O’Brien and Sadie Sink” to seeing the teaser cover photo and spontaneously combusting from the visible chemistry to finally staying up until midnight and reloading frantically with 768,791 others watching live around the world, it’s difficult to express my passion for the song ‘All Too Well’.
Now, my expectations for this masterpiece were high, and I’m going to go ahead and say they were met. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say I am a Swiftie (don’t come after me), but I have always loved Taylor’s songs, admired her ability to tell stories, and I grew up listening to her albums come out, so she has a very special place in my heart.
To start let me just say I appreciated the acting—I was as obsessed as the next person piling through Teen Wolf and falling in love with Stiles Stilinski (my one true love), and the same goes for Sadie Sink in Stranger Things when she was introduced as Maxine in season two...I knew they would be amazing no matter what. I love TV and film so much that I am taking film studies now at university which has only made me love on-screen art more, but I have to say I felt the dialogue scene to be unneeded. Upon third and fourth viewings, I feel it stalled the narrative rather than developed it. O'Brien's uncanny Gyllenhaal persona was pretty great, but I think the shot of him dropping Sadie’s hand at the dinner table was enough to indicate the tension and pain initiating the decline of their relationship. I would have loved if the film started with a longer scene like this of them engaging in a simple conversation to establish how special their love was, to lay the groundwork for the story to follow and begin the song from there.
This minor qualm aside, Taylor’s short film directorial debut was impressive from the cinematography to the costume and set design to the lighting which the re-recording’s misty vocals complemented beautifully. It’s everything I didn’t know I needed this fall, this year, this decade, and I melt every time I rewatch it and see the glances the actor’s shoot at each other, so much emotion behind their eyes. I think ‘All Too Well’ as a song is unique because of its nostalgic vulnerability where lots of Taylor’s other songs have a vengeful tone and angry view of the past (no complaints, love them), but this song is filled with so much love and true hurt, it’s easy to accompany Swift as she takes her listeners (and now viewers!) on the journey she went through and prompts them to feel with her as it goes. Some favorite moments I have to call out include the dancing in front of the fire shots, the camera spinning around the actors as they kiss in the woods, and Sadie’s heartbreaking sob scene. Also—tell me I’m not the only one hoping for that All Too Well book from the end of the film…of all her songs, this one was perfect for a short film, and I’m so ready for a full length version.
Now, raise a glass as I settle in for my 1,000th viewing of this stunning piece, and cheers to many more from Her Majesty Swift.