'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 3:07 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 3:07 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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