Taylor Swift’s fans know how to look for careful clues and Easter eggs in her lyrics and music videos, so anticipation was high when the pop star dropped a short film going deeper into her romantic life on a fan favorite song.
The 13-minute “All Too Well: The Short Film,” did not disappoint. Its release Friday night came soon after Swift debuted her expanded and re-recorded album “Red (Taylor’s Version),” which includes a 10-minute extended version of “All Too Well.”
Ahead of a fan screening, Swift told The Associated Press she decided to record a longer version of the song and make a mini-movie because of its popularity with followers.
“This is all about what the fans have turned this song into,” Swift said on the red carpet. “It was never a single, never had a video, it never had a visual element to it, but they pretty much created their own imaginary cinematic universe for it, so this is just me following through on what they started and what they told me they wanted.”
“Red” is a classic Swift album, with the original 2012 release featuring hits like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “22.” The superstar directed the “All Too Well” short, which stars stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien.
Packets of tissues that read “All Too Well” were handed out to the fans to use if needed.
Inside, Swift greeted the audience with “It’s been awhile.” She then granted permission for any emotion the film may stir up. “You and I are used to concerts,” Swift said. “We’re used to feeling how we feel and being vocal about how we feel, when we feel it. Just do that, feel your feelings. We’ve provided tissues. You do not need to be stoic, serious, or anything you are not,” she said.
In the movie, Sink and O’Brien play out the fun and romance of a new relationship, problems and hurt feelings creep up, and their eventual breakup.
A highlight begins with a dinner scene as O’Brien’s character holding court as the guests laugh. Sink reaches for O’Brien’s hand and he drops it. What follows is an approximate three-minute break in the music for spoken dialogue as they argue while washing dishes. O’Brien tells Sink she’s making something out of nothing for being upset, prompting the audience to gasp and boo.
Swift explained to The AP that this part of the film is “not an autobiographical moment at all” but was ad-libbed.
“I think you can tell a lot about people when you see them fight,” she explained. “So we wanted to have a big argument. They knew what the argument was about, what the catalyst was. This was something that was created for the film.”
After the screening, Swift brought O’Brien and Sink out before the audience. “I’m sorry about that,” O’Brien joked about his behavior on screen, winning the crowd back in his favor.
Swift also performed an acoustic version of “All Too Well” for the room as she strummed her guitar.
The new “All Too Well” was a top trending item Friday on Twitter, with fans reveling in the juicy details of the additional lyrics.
Although Swift hasn’t talked about who the song is about, Swiftie sleuths have targeted actor Jake Gyllenhaal as the likely beau who broke her heart years ago.
Swift has been re-recording her first six albums because her original masters were sold by her prior label and she wanted to create new masters that she could own herself. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” was released Friday with an expanded 30 total songs, including duets with Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton and Phoebe Bridgers.
“I’m getting to look back on this music and just see music and see art and see experiences I’ve had in concerts,” said Swift of re-recording her music. “It was mine and now it’s really shared between me and the fans and that’s what I have really taken away from this experience.”