Illustration of people in a car

Illustration of people in a car

Swift’s directorial debut, “All Too Well,” stars Sadie Sink, as “her” and Dylan O’Brien as “him.” Swift is known for leaving hidden messages in her album’s notes, which she did throughout this short film. The most obvious visual references to her lyrical motifs were the male protagonist holding onto the red scarf after the breakup. It then goes into a montage of the happy couple going through the stages to become separated.

Through the montage, seven sequence subtitles were labeled the phases of the relationship. The situation was: “an upstate escape,” “the first crack in the glass,” “are you real?,” “the breaking point,” “the reeling,” “the remembering” and “13 years gone.” These sequence subtitles place a label on each part of the relationship. It allows the audience to read what Swift thought them to be.

The first crack in the glass reveals O’Brien hosting a dinner party where Sink is uncomfortable. He drops her hand at dinner in front of his friends. The music pauses while they are cleaning at the end of the party, leading to a fight. The fight scene perfectly fits the song in the sense that O’Brien is the one at fault, so there’s no way you’d side with him. It felt like how someone would describe a fight to their friends later on.

“All Too Well” was shot on a 35mm film, giving the audience the scene of projecting a piece of Swift’s history. Each scene, lets viewers see the way Swift looks back onto the relationship. It forms small snippets from the relation with a few scenes to form the montage. The film is a piece of work that draws you in with the storytelling, and the director filmed it. The 15-minute film is a cinematic marvel that captures all the emotions and body language each character has towards one another. Each scene is visually pleasing to the eye, with the browns, oranges, blues, and reds. 

At the end of the montage, finally broken up, the film concludes with a flash-forward to 13 years in the future. Sink is now Swift, reading an excerpt of her first novel “All Too Well” to a crowd, while O’Brien stands outside in the snow wearing the red scarf.

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