Seeing Allred

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Seeing Allred Movie Poster Image
Docu about lawyer for victims of sex crimes, inequity.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 95 minutes

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Positive Messages

Announces that change can be accomplished despite long odds. Advocates hard work, passion, and tenacity in order to achieve goals. Points out importance of pursuing justice, persevering despite criticism, and the value of empathy toward others. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Central character is shown to have courage, compassion, strong communication skills, self-control, and integrity. In the face of many who judge her harshly, she refuses to be cowed.


Discussion of sexual assaults. References to Simpson-Goldman double murder.


Multiple sequences focus on representation of women who have been victims of sexual assault and/or harassment. Frank discussions about rape, abortion, gender discrimination.


One use each of "hell," "s--t," "balls." 


Law firm of Allred, Maroko & Goldberg is featured.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Seeing Allred is a documentary that focuses on Gloria Allred, a well-known lawyer at the forefront of US legal battles for women's rights, along with LGBTQ and other human rights causes. Allred, outspoken, seemingly fearless, and often in the news, has represented victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and women's workplace issues for decades. Viewers can expect to see/hear testimony from victims of Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, and other high-profile men who have been accused of such behavior. Abortion, rape, sexual assault, and discrimination are candidly discussed. The film presents interviews with Allred's clients, her partners, even detractors, along with newsreel footage and frequent significant conversations with the subject herself. Mostly a positive portrait, the film doesn't ignore those who view her with hostility. It's a timely film, and while it's ostensibly about Allred, the issues brought to light are broad and ongoing. 

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What's the story?

Tracking Gloria Allred from her earliest years to the current day, directors Roberta Grossman and Sophie Sartain offer an intimate picture of a woman of great passion in SEEING ALLRED. As a young single mother teaching in Los Angeles' Watts district, having been the victim of an assault herself, Allred returned to law school so that she could become an advocate. Using newsreel footage along with interviews with clients, peers, and notable legal minds, the directors draw an outline of their subject. Then, to fill it in, they focus on extensive conversations and singular events with Allred herself. She's seen beside a bevy of victims of sexual assault as they accuse celebrity predators, relentlessly fighting to remove statutes of limitations for victims, and literally holding up those who speak out despite their vulnerability. Aware of detractors who question her motives and her methods, Allred simply moves forward, exposing those with ugly secrets, championing the near-voiceless, and willing herself to make a difference.

Is it any good?

Controversial because of who she is and those she represents and opposes, Gloria Allred is a dynamic subject at a critical moment for a film about women's ongoing battle against historic injustices. Allred has a multitude of fans and just as many critics. Significantly, according to this movie, her clients and those for whom she has worked on a pro bono basis laud her contributions and her support. While not ignoring those who malign her as "pushy," or "in it for the money" or "the glory," the filmmakers attempt to give an in-depth picture of her place in the last half century of significant legal struggles. And, given the breadth of the influence she's wielded, their assessment is positive.

Seeing Allred is well-structured, moving back and forth over decades to show how consistent this advocate has been, how prescient in some cases. Fighting a store chain for labeling sections of their stores "Toys for Boys" and "Toys for Girls" was laughed at in 1979, but would be imperative in the 21st century. A telling moment occurs when Allred is being verbally attacked by a heckler who is literally in her face. Though one can see that the lawyer is deeply affected by the assault, she stands her ground. A fitting documentary for a woman who is willing to defray the costs of being mocked in order to foster change.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various goals of filmmaking: to inform, entertain, or persuade. What's the primary purpose of Seeing Allred? Why is it important to understand the filmmakers' purpose?

  • The film covers more than 50 years in the history of women's legal issues. What has changed since Allred began her battle against injustice and discrimination? What hasn't changed? 

  • Directors Grossman and Sartain have incorporated many negative comments and opinions of Allred and her work, though overall it presents a positive picture. Do you think all together it's a balanced view? Why or why not? Where would you go to find out more about Gloria Allred?

  •  What character strengths does this documentary reinforce?

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