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Taylor Swift: Red (Taylor's Version) | Double Review

by Khushvita Singh and Maeve Topliff

Album Review by Khushvita Singh

Taylor Swift's ability to arouse enormous enthusiasm for the re-recording of an old album is undeniable. The 10-minute version of ‘All Too Well’ especially sparked great fascination. The passionate heartbreaking song has long been a fan favourite, and the long-awaited extended version did not disappoint.

The lyrics, which were already heart-shattering, have been extended to include sketches of a wrecked 21st birthday and bitter remarks about the couple's age disparity. Taylor marvels 'Just between us, did the love affair maim you too?', her intricately familiar style at its finest. With a magnificent melody and ethereal blended vocals, the music fades away, altering an already beloved song into a tear-inducing sculpture of unforgettable genius.

‘Run,’ a new collaboration with Ed Sheeran, is a delicate renunciation beside the mesmerising and evocatively morose ‘Everything Has Changed’. ‘Nothing New,’ featuring Phoebe Bridgers, is an added ballad with emotionally echoing lyrics, 'How can a person know everything at eighteen, yet nothing at twenty-two?'

Ageless darlings like ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ and ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ are granted a fresh life, with Taylor's progressively mature vocal range making them sound cleaner and brighter than ever. ‘Stay Stay Stay’ illuminates the album's wide-ranging genre charm, with country rhythms and storytelling reminiscent of Taylor's preliminary flair. Chris Stapleton and Taylor Swift’s duet, ‘I Bet You Think About Me,’ finds Swift returning to her country roots with Stapleton’s trademark tenor harmonizing supporting a warm foil for Swift’s tragic vocals.

The re-recording of Red gives listeners an augmented experience of an already terrific album, reincarnated with the confidence of an artist who now owns her own work, rather than being a tiresome repetition. The album is a stunning masterpiece of thirty benevolent and poignantly cathartic, enraged, and transformative songs which shall not go unheard.

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Short Film: All Too Well (2021) Review by Maeve Topliff

In pursuit of reclaiming her music, Taylor Swift has been releasing ‘Taylor’s Versions’ of her music that is owned by her ex-manager, Scooter Braun. This is exciting enough for all the Swifties out there, but it seems that Red (Taylor’s Version) is the gift that keeps on giving.

Along with the extended ten-minute version of ‘All Too Well’, comes a short film directed by Taylor herself. Featuring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, the film mirrors Taylor’s relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal – which is much of the inspiration for the Red album.

The energy between Sadie and Dylan is authentic, and it’s extraordinary how invested in this relationship we get in only 14 minutes, especially knowing how it will end. The film is split into chapter-like sections. In ‘The First Crack In The Glass’, we see the only scene with dialogue in it. ‘Her’ and ‘Him’, as the two characters are labelled, fight about ‘Her’ feeling ignored when she meets his friends. This is an improvised scene, and it’s fascinating how, despite it not being scripted, the actors both understand their characters so well that it portrays Taylor’s view of herself and Jake perfectly. Sadie is eloquently expressing her feelings and being vulnerable with ‘Him’ and is met with nothing but gaslighting and aggression. My heart was breaking for Taylor during the whole scene.

All Too Well has had such a hype around it since its release that there’s no hiding who it’s about. Taylor makes many directive choices to imitate images of her and Jake. This ranges from the way Sadie and Dylan walk together, with Sadie’s arm over Dylan’s shoulder and chest, to a shot of Dylan on the phone wearing clothes suspiciously similar to paparazzi photos of Jake. Fans online are having a field day connecting the dots between the film and real life.

The eleven year age gap between Sadie and Dylan is a disturbing part of the film which I feel must be mentioned. It doesn’t feel right watching a nineteen- and a thirty-year-old canoodle on screen, but this was the same age Taylor and Jake were. I think it’s important to look closely at how Sadie acts due to this. Everything about her behaviour, from her communication to her outfits, makes her seem grown-up, but you cannot shake the knowledge that she isn’t. Watching this girl, who is younger than you, have a relationship with someone you watched on your screen growing up is unnerving, but very much the point.

The best part of this film for me is the cinematography itself. The autumn colours and the scene lighting create an ambience that, to me, looks like what falling in love feels like. We see so much of this relationship through nineteen-year-old Taylor’s eyes as this dream comes true and this perspective makes the whole thing absolutely heartbreaking. Let’s just say I won’t be rushing to see anything with Jake Gyllenhaal in it for the foreseeable future.


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