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HomeEntertainment‘All Too Well:’ A Masterpiece Showcasing The Heartbreaking Reality Of Breakups

‘All Too Well:’ A Masterpiece Showcasing The Heartbreaking Reality Of Breakups

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Taylor Swift released “All Too Well,” a powerful country rock and soft rock ballad that came to be regarded as her magnum opus, on Oct. 22, 2012. Nine years later, Swift released the 10-minute version of this masterpiece for “Red (Taylor’s Version),” her second re-recorded album, as well as a short film based on the song starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. Ever since Swift started re-recording her older songs, fans had been anticipating “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault).” Now, it is clear that the raw emotions and heartbreaking reality of breakups are still as real as ever almost a decade later. 

“All Too Well” depicts Swift’s heartache following a devastating breakup, using vivid details from her memory to paint the picture of a couple who once loved each other so much but hurt each other so badly. In the film, Him (Dylan O’Brien) and Her (Sadie Sink) are a happy couple who travel to New York for a dinner party; however, the two fight after he ignores her to catch up with his friends. Although the two make up in the end, Him starts to distance himself from Her, and the two eventually break up, leaving both scarred and alone. 

Photo provided by Taylor Swift @taylorswift13/Twitter

Swift is known to take inspiration from her own love life for her music, and some have even criticized her for it, with jokes along the lines of “don’t date Taylor Swift unless you want her to write a song for your breakup.” Her magnum opus is no exception: fans have speculated that “All Too Well” is about Jake Gyllenhaal, whom Swift dated from October to December 2010. The two broke up after Gyllenhaal felt like it “wasn’t working out,” leaving Swift devastated and hurt. During her “Speak Now” tour, she started to put her emotions into her music, repeating a few chords on her guitar and ad-libbing what she was going through as the band joined in during rehearsals; through this natural process, Swift created a 10-minute song filled with her heartache and story. 

It was precisely the realism in “All Too Well” that led it to its fame, and the short film enhanced the original version with a visual depiction of the lyrics and new details that further demonstrated Swift’s heartache. The argument scene between O’Brien and Sink is filled with realistic emotion: Him is dismissive and manipulative, while Her is heartbroken but tries her best not to cry. 

“I feel so out of place,” Her says. “You’re the only one that makes people comfortable. They wouldn’t even look at me.”

“I’m catching up with friends,” Him says, exasperated. “You’re literally saying I dropped your hand, like what? I don’t even remember the moment you’re talking about. How can you be, like, attacking me about something I don’t even f***ing know? I was doing it subconsciously. I was catching up with people.”

“Don’t, you’re making me feel f***ing stupid,” Her counters back.

“Holy s**t,” Him says, annoyance creeping into his tone. “I don’t think I’m making you feel that way. I think you’re making yourself feel that way.”

Photo provided by Taylor Swift @taylorswift13/Twitter

The argument hurt to watch because of its hard-hitting relatability. Just how many arguments between real-life couples were echoed in this scene? Both O’Brien and Sink portrayed their characters well, capturing their tones and facial expressions brilliantly. The lines were well-written, forcing viewers to feel the same kind of hurt that Swift experienced herself. 

However, the film did not succeed just because it portrayed the breaking of a relationship. The love was just as realistic as the pain; in the middle of the night, Him and Her danced in the kitchen, illuminated by the refrigerator light, smiling at each other and just how happy they were in the moment. It was such a small detail of mundane life, but it held so much meaning: how lucky do you have to be to find someone willing to stay by your side and act like an idiot with you? Because of this, the contrast between the love and the pain was heightened, making the eventual heartache even more intense. 

Photo provided by Taylor Swift @taylorswift13/Twitter

Swift sings about heartache, about how her love may fade but her memories never will: “And you call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest.” She reflects on her experience, on how her hurting affected her: “And maybe we got lost in translation / Maybe I asked for too much / But maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up / Running scared, I was there / I remember it all too well.” Whether it be the song or the short film, “All Too Well” is a masterpiece that showcases the reality of love and heartbreak, portraying how the end of a romance can leave two people pained, fragmented and eternally scarred. 

Grace Tu is an Entertainment Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at tug2@uci.edu.