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“All Too Well: The Short Film” maimed me too

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

“All Too Well: The Short Film” provides crucial commentary on age gap relationships from the perspective of a young woman. 

Since Taylor Swift dropped the 10-minute version of “All Too Well”, along with the short film starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien on Nov. 12, I have not known peace. The film provides crucial commentary on age gap relationships from the perspective of a young woman blinded by love and innocence. The song is an installment of the re-recorded album Red (Taylor’s Version) which depicts her relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who was 29 when the pair dated in 2012– Swift was a mere 20. While not illegal per-say, the short film reveals how unethical the power structure in their entanglement really was. 

The biggest red flag that stuck out to me was that Gyllenhaal (portrayed by O’Brien) is an expert gas-lighter. The scene that made me the most infuriated was when Sink and O’Brien were hosting a dinner party for O’Brien’s friends; Sink tries to hold his hand at the table and he brushes her off… in front of everyone. When she brings this up later, he claims he has no memory of doing so and calls her selfish by making the night about her. In the end, O’Brien apologizes in an overly patronizing tone after he completely invalidates Sink’s feelings and makes her cry. I was so genuinely disgusted by this dialogue because Sink is made to feel as if she is delusional and crazy, meanwhile, O’Brien didn’t look at her once the entire dinner or include her in his conversations. This shows how toxic the couple actually is and how little in common Sink has with his friends, due to their age gap reaching almost a decade. 

Additionally, Swift is notorious for her incredibly detailed projects filled with symbolism and easter eggs, where every lyric and scene has an intended meaning. One of my favorite parallels in the film happens during the big dinner party scene when Sink’s wine glass is full (surprise, she’s not even old enough to drink) while everyone else is drinking from empty or near-empty glasses. Fast forward to later in the video, Sink is shown at an art gallery nursing a glass of champagne. All of the surrounding party-goers hold the glass by the stem, but she is seen holding it by the glass itself. I’ve seen a few TikToks decode this symbolism as a representation of Sink’s apparent youth and lack of knowledge when it comes to drinking etiquette because, again, she is so young and barely old enough to drink at this point. Overall, I think it serves as a reminder of how disconnected Swift and Gyllenhaal must have been in their relationship, because really, how much can a 20 and 29-year-old have in common beyond budding fame. 

 “I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes, I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age.”

All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)

Finally, I couldn’t write this story without mentioning the most impactful new lyric from the 10-minute version. Swift powerfully states in verse five, “I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes, I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age.” First of all, she was correct. Gyllenhaal is now 40 years old, while his current girlfriend Jeanne Cadieu was 22 when they started dating in 2018. Second of all, this is not a safe space for Jake Gyllenhaal. 

I think a huge takeaway from both the film and the song is that Taylor Swift is an expert lyricist and artist. However, on a more serious note, part of getting older and maturing is realizing that age gap relationships when one party is barely legal can create an unhealthy power dynamic in a couple and can create an extremely toxic environment. It may be flattering to be pursued by an older love interest, but it’s probably worth examining why no one their age wants to date them. Taking risks for love and being spontaneous is a huge part of growing up and gaining experience, however, no one should sacrifice their integrity for someone who drops their hand at the dinner table.

Katlynn is a journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. She has a love for sustainability, fashion, writing, music and activism. Her goal is to pursue a career in fashion and entertainment writing. Additionally, her other passions include yoga, chess and taking care of her dachshund-chihuahua mix, Margo.
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