Written by 4:04 am Feature

Red, Revisited: All’s Well That Ends Too Well

Red (Taylor’s Version) is a two-hour long musical experience that’s nothing short of eargasmic – a masterpiece that tore us all up and maimed us all too well. Never in our wildest dreams could we have predicted something so treacherously good. This is why, even days later, our eyes are still burning red from shedding actual teardrops on our metaphorical guitars.

On the eve of its release, Taylor went on Jimmy Fallon to promote RTV and expressed her excitement over her favorite track on the album, the ten-minute version of All Too Well. While it’s not the first time we’ve seen long format tracks – like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Don McLean’s American Pie, and Green Day’s Jesus of Suburbia to name a few – All Too Well (10 Minute Version) is in a league of its own. Add to that the accompanying All Too Well: The Short Film, which Swift wrote and directed and starred in, we’ve got ourselves a real trouble, trouble, trouble-maker.

The short film also stars Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink and Maze Runner’s Dylan O’Brien whose chemistry and collective performances contribute to an overall wistful and melancholic rendition of the song’s premise. The girl in the red scarf, who Taylor describes as “incredibly, prolifically talented,” delivers warmth and adolescent vulnerability that’s so utterly convincing in its authenticity that we couldn’t keep our eyes off of her. With the internet as blown away by Sadie Sink as Swift is and O’Brien’s impeccable skill at wearing a plaid shirt and a beard, it’s safe to say that there could not have been a better cast.

To be fair, and in the name of being honest, there is a certain Jake Gyllenhaal (who shall remain unnamed) to whom credit is also due as he is widely speculated as being the subject matter of the song in question. But there’s no need to jump to conclusions – not when the conclusions are right there in front of you, no jumping of any kind required. For without this bearded specimen of a man whose last name we couldn’t spell even if our lives depended on it, there wouldn’t be an All Too Well to speak of. And spoke of it, we did.

Whereas Taylor Swift has yet to explicitly confirm or deny that the short film is based on her past relationship with a particular Jake Gyllenhaal, the internet had other things in mind and went on an Easter egg hunt in the middle of November. In the spirit of digging up the past, fans have been comparing scenes in the short film with actual photos of Swift and her 2010 beau. Suffice to say, if that were the assignment, then the patron saint of breakup songs understood it.

But before we sharpen our swords and light our torches, Taylor’s directorial debut is more than just the vengeful crusade against an ex from 12 years ago that people might make it out to be. So put down your pitchforks, there will be no crucifying here. It is a film in its own right with a plot and themes that just happens to have a kick-ass soundtrack.

A particular theme that caused quite a stir among fans is gaslighting. In case you forgot or don’t know what that is, just go ahead and refer to the kitchen scene in “The First Crack in the Glass” portion of the short film. Sink and O’Brien get in an argument over the very real fact that he dropped her hand during dinner. He then goes to indirectly call her stupid and then directly calls her selfish and crazy, minimizing her feeling as though they aren’t real. To be frank, he might as well be wearing that red scarf as a red flag. But this is an example of textbook gaslighting where the gaslighter denies their partner’s reality in an attempt to steer the narrative so that they come out on the right. One can easily imagine how this form of psychological manipulation would be common to relationships with age differences such as the one we see between Sink and O’Brien in the film, not to mention the one Taylor Swift had with an unidentified Jake Gyllenhaal back in 2010.

When asked about the said relationship, Taylor Swift only had nice things to say – about her fans. Who she thinks may share her experiences during that “unique moment” in life. Swift is referring to ages 19-21 (which happens to be the demographic of her audience) where “you’ve got one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood, and you don’t quite know where to stand.” While it might be a shot in the dark to say that Taylor’s evasive maneuvering means she harbors no hard feelings about a certain breakup, it’s important to note that who All Too Well was about 12 years ago and is no longer who the artist had in mind when she created the short film.

It has been quite a few days since Taylor Swift shook the very ground we stand on with All Too Well: The Short Film and the tremors haven’t died down or diminished in the slightest. We’re lucky though – we could be in the 1800s going through a tough breakup listening to Beethoven but thankfully we’re alive in the same era as Taylor Swift whose short film gives our breakups something to aspire to. Since its premiere, the film has consistently held the No. 1 trending spot on YouTube – an impressive feat with the 12th of November being a whirlwind of events; Paris had just gotten married, Britney was freed, the first look at Lindsay Lohan’s movie was revealed. But like the fame-hogging, attention-grabber that it is, All Too Well: The Short Film has latched onto our interests, and not a day goes by without us thinking about it – it’s something that we remember all too well.

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