Taylor Swift, whose legion of fans has made her one of the best-selling artists of all time, is breaking more records with “All Too Well,” her short film based on a new, 10-minute version of the song originally released in 2012. It premiered to an emotional, tissue-carrying crowd at AMC Lincoln Center in New York City and on YouTube November 12; by the next morning it was the number-one trending video on the site with over 14 million views. And it briefly took the number-one rated spot on Letterboxd: with 4.65 stars, the short, written and directed by Swift, is better received by users of the movie-ranking site than “Parasite” and the concert short “Radiohead: In Rainbows – From the Basement.”
The 15-minute film stars Sadie Sink (“Stranger Things”) and Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf”) as star-crossed lovers navigating the roller coaster of their relationship before inevitable heartbreak. It’s centered around the new, long version of “All Too Well”; the music is interrupted in the middle by an argumentative Sink and O’Brien. Swift makes a cameo at the end.
Many of Swift’s devoted fans immediately pointed out that Sink (19) and O’Brien (30) have a similar age gap as Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal when the pair dated briefly about a decade ago. Since the original version of “All Too Well” was released in 2012, Gyllenhaal has been rumored to be the subject of the song. Neither the singer nor the actor has confirmed those rumors.
Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh said the short was “like a music video on steroids meets a Noah Baumbach movie.” He was among those at the New York premiere who were handed packs of tissues in preparation for the drama that would unfold on screen. NME’s Rhian Daly called Swift’s film a “tear-jerker” that “highlights the emotional power of her unrivaled storytelling.”
The 10-minute version of “All Too Well” appears on the Swift album “Red (Taylor’s Version),” also released November 12.
The album, anchored by new versions of tracks from Swift’s 2012 “Red,” saw many of its songs at the top of the U.S. and global Spotify charts November 13— “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” was the number-one song worldwide.
At the New York premiere, Swift thanked her fans for empowering her to re-record her albums following controversy over the sale of original masters by her label Big Machine to Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings. She said she wanted to do as many special things as possible for them in honor of the release of “Red (Taylor’s Version).”
“One of those things was creating an entire cinematic universe around ‘All Too Well,’” she said to cheers, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
While “All Too Well” marks the first time Swift has helmed a short film, the singer had a long history of directing her own music videos. She co-directed the videos for “Mine” in 2010, “You Need to Calm Down” and “Me!” in 2019, and made her solo directorial debut last year with “The Man.” Several earned accolades at the VMAs. She directed and produced the feature concert film “Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions,” which was released on Disney+ last year.
For “All Too Well,” Swift upped the cinematic ante: It was shot on 35mm by rising-star cinematographer Rina Yang, whom Swift called “brilliant.” The Japanese-Korean-British DP was named by BAFTA to its Breakthrough cohort last year. She was one of the cinematographers of the Michelle Obama documentary “Becoming,” the second-unit cinematographer for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and worked on videos for FKA Twigs, Vince Staples, Kendrick Lamar, Dua Lipa, Björk, and Sam Smith. She lensed an episode of the upcoming second season of “Euphoria.”
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