Kelsea Ballerini releases short film, EP

Country music star Kelsea Ballerini shocked fans when she announced she wrote and directed her own short film, “Rolling Up the Welcome Mat.” The twenty minute short film was released on YouTube on Feb. 13, 2023, walking the audience through Ballerini’s journey through divorce.

This film was released alongside Ballerini’s EP of the same title. The fifteen minute EP features the six songs that were included in the short film — “Mountain With A View,” “Just Married,” “Penthouse,” “Interlude,” “Blindsided” and “Leave Me Again.” 

The film is divided into chapters after each of the songs featured in the film. Each chapter shows the parts of her relationship — from just getting married to her eventual disintegrating marriage. The short film shows the ups and downs of her relationship, mostly taking place inside her house.

The first chapter — “Mountain With A View” — shows Ballerini walking into her house alone. She’s on the phone, and says “I haven’t seen you.” Ballerini’s at the kitchen table looking distraught, and the story is set up.

She sings about knowing her relationship is over, with lyrics like “I think this is when it’s over for me.” She talks about still wearing her ring, but knowing she doesn’t want to stay in the relationship.

“Just Married” is a visual representation of the marriage breaking apart, topped with the plates in her hands smashing on the floor at the end of the chapter. She sings about keeping their problems buried, and how she’s been holding everything in since the couple got married.

The third chapter shows the couple in their penthouse, playing cards and slow dancing in the living room. There are also flashing lights through the curtains, which closely resemble paparazzi cameras. With the rampant speculation around Ballerini’s divorce and potential new relationship, it makes sense.

The last chapter features Ballerini in a closet. There’s a suitcase, and the small space is almost empty at this point. This symbolizes the couple are broken up.

“Leave Me Again” is not about Ballerini’s husband leaving her, but her leaving herself. The song is about her own self-discovery journey, and how she lost herself in her marriage. 

The settings of the short film are simple and beautiful, all taking place in a house. The couple are in different parts of the house the entire time: the kitchen, the living room, a bed, a closet. All of these simple locations tell the complex story of a fading relationship.

This film encapsulates the internal struggle of something so real. Ballerini’s vulnerability in not only the songs, but the film itself is something that you see throughout the story — from start to finish. 

Vocally, visually and lyrically, this short film is a masterpiece. It shows grieving a relationship, a life you thought you would have with someone.

To discover something you always wanted isn’t what’s making you happy is something that’s very hard to put into words, let alone a visual story like “Rolling Up the Welcome Mat.”