'Seeing Allred' shines light on Gloria Allred

Nobody will confuse "Seeing Allred" with a hard-hitting expose; rather, this Netflix documentary unabashedly celebrat...

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 4:07 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 4:07 PM

Nobody will confuse "Seeing Allred" with a hard-hitting expose; rather, this Netflix documentary unabashedly celebrates publicity-savvy attorney/advocate Gloria Allred, shedding some interesting light on her career, even if it's all flattering.

The irony is that filmmakers Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman began their look at Allred's hard-charging brand of lawyering -- with its emphasis on media appearances and never meeting a bank of cameras she wouldn't rush to greet -- during the allegations against Bill Cosby in 2014.

Allred not only represented a number of the comedian's accusers but also lobbied to alter statute of limitations laws in connection with rape cases -- a campaign that resulted in California Gov. Jerry Brown signing the Justice for Victims Act in 2016.

As a consequence, the film essentially just tacks on material about the #MeToo movement that arose in the fall, with a bit more time devoted to Allred's clients who have leveled allegations against Donald Trump -- a one-two punch that has put a sort-of punctuation mark on her lifelong crusade.

"Seeing Allred" opens with a 1977 clip from Dinah Shore's show, in which Allred rises from the audience and identifies herself as an attorney, registering a point about feminism that leaves the host taken aback. It's emblematic of both the time and Allred's confrontational style, reinforcing assertions by friends and colleagues that the attorney's unadulterated focus is on serving her clients and advancing her causes, not winning any popularity contests.

"I live in a war zone," Allred says near the outset -- which somewhat clashes with the image of her gazing out at the ocean from her Malibu home -- adding that in terms of the way she prosecutes her battles on behalf of women, "Power only understands power."

"Seeing Allred" is at its best in roughly the first third of the film, which chronicles Allred's biography -- how she married young, went back to school to become a lawyer and stumbled into her career niche. One media appearance, basically, begat another, as evidenced by a rapid-fire montage of Allred addressing reporters or mixing it up as a guest on cable news.

Allred also discusses her personal experience with sexual assault, and is shown spending time with her daughter, Lisa Bloom, who has followed in mom's footsteps.

What's missing from the film, unfortunately, is a sense of balance -- anybody who might accuse Allred of public-relations grandstanding or second-guess her decisions. Yes, there are clips of people (including Trump, but also Jimmy Kimmel and "Saturday Night Live") criticizing or mocking her, and ample praise from notable figures, such as Gloria Steinem. But there's relatively little that qualifies as bringing critical third-party voices into the conversation.

Obviously, the intention here was to raise awareness of Allred's accomplishments -- including work beyond her high-profile or celebrity-driven cases -- and reveal more about the person behind the press conferences. Given the tide of news during the last several months, the issues raised couldn't be timelier.

Still, as the documentary makes clear, Allred is tough enough to shrug off the occasional brush-back pitch. That makes it something of a shame that "Seeing Allred" opted to strictly toss her softballs.

"Seeing Allred" premieres Feb. 9 on Netflix.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
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Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
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Gibson6190107
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Steuben501768
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Wells389884
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Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
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Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1390015

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1541781574
Cuyahoga1361632341
Hamilton989691326
Montgomery681371161
Summit569981051
Lucas51769869
Butler48139663
Stark42350983
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Mahoning27564643
Clermont26081297
Lake24873422
Delaware22600147
Licking20818246
Fairfield20789223
Greene20667275
Trumbull20378516
Medina20178290
Clark18235332
Richland16749236
Portage16442231
Wood15973209
Allen14405261
Miami14063261
Muskingum12976155
Wayne12234244
Columbiana12046242
Tuscarawas11248271
Marion10935150
Pickaway10642129
Scioto10585127
Erie9888171
Ross9648177
Lawrence8967125
Hancock8637143
Ashtabula8509187
Geauga8272156
Belmont8262188
Jefferson7736175
Huron7566131
Union743951
Washington7396126
Athens712065
Sandusky6984135
Darke6884137
Knox6839122
Seneca6533137
Ashland6078115
Auglaize596888
Shelby5845104
Brown578272
Mercer565890
Crawford5591117
Defiance5579101
Madison552171
Highland550982
Fulton543583
Clinton535781
Logan520587
Preble5123111
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Jackson436663
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Morrow398251
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Adams371575
Hardin367570
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Henry331869
Van Wert321471
Hocking312370
Wyandot286058
Carroll267052
Paulding247443
Meigs223042
Monroe193149
Noble174442
Morgan170329
Harrison161741
Vinton141919
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