A limousine stops at a hotel. Rain courses down and lightning flares on both sides of street. Paparazzi, bundled up in hoodies and holding umbrellas, take pictures of Zayn, who gets out of the limousine. An assistant follows him, holding an umbrella underneath him as he walks towards the entrance of London’s St Pracas Renaissance Hotel. Head down, he ignores the questions and taunts from the photographers.
He passes through the dimmed lobby, lit by a rose pink lamp. An older man puts his hand on his shoulder and stops him. When he turns around, the older man snaps photos of him. Zayn’s bodyguard takes the camera away from the older man.
He walks through the bar, with two long counters on each side, decorated with blood red roses in vases and tall lamps glowing white.
He steps into the elevator, lit money green and switching to a Vermont red. He turns to the left.
On the other side of the elevator is Taylor Swift, lit in money green and then a Vermont red before returning back to the money green. She walks down the hallway, illuminated with the sparse rose pink light and puts her hands on her head, frustrated. She enters the room and walks off to the side.
Zayn, on the other side of the room, puts his hand on his chest and walks around the room. In the elevator, flashing Vermont red, she closes her eyes and rolls her head around. Zayn slumps in a chair.
She pours champagne in an overflowing glass and glares straight ahead. She tears the petals off a bouquet of white roses. In the room, the lights flash a cornflower blue as Zayn sits on the couch.
She lies on a couch, as people pass by her, drinking and wearing silver masquerade masks. Zayn looks at photographs and then flings them across the room. She washes her hands in the bathroom then judges herself in the mirror.
On the bed, she puts her head on her shoulder, revealing her the black lacy straps of her outfit. The lights flash Vermont red again as she sits on top of the bed. Zayn throws a glass. She lies across the bed, stretching her arms. The lights flash cornflower blue for Zayn as he rethinks what he has done.
She heaves a pillow from the bed. Zayn throws another glass at the wall. She scratches the bedpost with her nails and then rolls over around in the bed.
She and Zayn stand back to back to each other, lit in cornflower blue. She hurls a vase and Zayn tosses over the couch. Lit in cornflower blue, he puts his head into his hands. He throws a lamp.
Lit in Vermont red, she leans against Zayn, eyes closed. She gulps, her eyes wet on her pale face, and pulls some of her hair back behind her eyes.
She stares at him as the light rotates between the cornflower blue and Vermont red, questioning his feelings for her. Zayn offers no reassurance. She sits in front of the fireplace, hoping.
Taylor Swift crosses into unfamiliar territory in the video. In “Blank Space,” she wore the La Perla lingerie as a costume. Here, it’s her character’s skin. There are no fairy tale castles, a cast of friends or a parade of couture to rely on. She’s on her own to flesh out her character, which is far removed from the comically unstable and heroic victims she usually portrays.
Swift, though, is vulnerable as a stinging wound with the added disillusionment that she may not be as healthy again. The discomfort tinged with insecurity work in her favor. It is unlike her to be morose and detached. For the first time ever, it is required of her to be more than the face of a girl squad revolution who posts cute photos of her cat on Instagram.
Zayn, though, is closer to Christian Grey in character, but somewhat softened. He is a well-known socialite who has paparazzi staking out where he stays. The isolation of it has caused him shut people out, including the woman he loves (Swift) and lash out in anger. When he tosses the lamp and glass, the outburst is unsettling as he embodies the demons inside Grey.
Director: Grant Singer Year: 2017
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