‘All Too Well’ short film sends fans down theory rabbit holes

There is a saying that you never forget your first love. You will remember it all too well. Your first love makes the most impact on your life. Whether that impact is positive or negative, your first love helps to shape you. Most first loves do not last. Your first love is innocent, powerful, and when it ends so does a piece of you.

Taylor Swift’s short film “All Too Well” is meant to be a story of her entire relationship with, who fans believe to be, Jake Gyllenhaal. The film stars Sadie Sink, who plays ‘her’, and Dylan O’Brien, who plays ‘him.’ The short film allows for Swift’s audience to not only come up with their own conclusions through words, but we can physically see the storyline of “All Too Well”.

Swift uses numerous examples of Easter Eggs within the short film. This verifies that the story is about Swift and Gyllenhaal. 

The first, the age difference between Sink and O’Brien. Sink is 19 years old and O’Brien is 30 years old. They have almost the same age gap as Swift and Gyllenhaal when they dated. 

The second is the meaning behind the “red scarf.” Early in the song, Swift sings “…I left my scarf there…” At first, this statement does not have a significant impact on the song. The scarf seemed to act as a sweater you refuse to give your ex-boyfriend back; however, after watching the film, fans have concluded another meaning behind the “red scarf” is Swift’s virginity. She sings “But you keep my old scarf. From that very first week. ‘Cause it reminds you of innocence…” In literature, losing innocence often refers to losing virginity. She is saying although her first love is over, she and him cannot forget each other because they will carry that red scarf everywhere they go.

Another reason fans believe the scarf represents virginity is because, in the film, Sink and O’Brien’s characters are broken up. Swift sings this line as O’Brien is walking down the street and flashbacks of what seems to be his past memories show O’Brien and Sink kissing intimately.

The way Swift calls out Gyllenhaal is his dating history. “I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age.” If you look into Gyllenhaal’s dating history, he tends to date younger women. Gyllenhaal is currently 40 years old and he continues to date women in their mid-twenties. Swift is now in her thirties, so she is saying she no longer fits the category of Gyllenhaal’s younger women.

In the song, you also hear Swift and Sink being uncomfortable around their significant other’s friends due to the age difference. Both Swift and Sink could not even drink alcohol like Gyllenhaal and his friends. They were also thirty, so Swift could not relate to the majority of their life experiences. I know I am only 20 years old. I have older friends, I cannot relate to their live placements at the moment. When I was younger, I did not understand why some of these friends did not communicate with me as often. Now that I am older I see it is because we were at different moments in our lives. When I was in high school and my friends were in college, it was more difficult for them to share moments with me because I could not understand. I still have younger friends who are in high school. I love them to pieces; however, they cannot share my experiences at the moment. I can share these moments with my older friends.

Because “All Too Well” represents losing a first love, Swift wanted to teach her audience how to carry that first love in a positive way. Just because some first loves do not last, a first love can be a significant moment of growth. At the end of the film, Swift plays the older version of “her.” She is selling and speaking about a book she wrote titled “All Too Well.” Sounds familiar right? This verifies Swift’s character is meant to represent young Swift. Swift used her heartbreak to heal and as inspiration for the song.

We also see O’Brien looking through a window at the older version of “Her.” Both Gyllenhaal and Swift are celebrities. They more than likely hear about moments in each other’s lives. Although the two do not keep in touch, this shows they still check in on each other. Your first love holds a special spot in your heart. Although that spot is no longer true love or passion, you still care and appreciate the lessons learned throughout your time together.