The 5 Browns: Digging Through Darkness | Chicago Reader
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The 5 Browns: Digging Through Darkness

Ben Niles (Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037) directed this unsettling and powerful documentary about the Brown siblings, five piano prodigies (three female, two male) who became famous in the classical music world when they were still in their teens. About a decade after their rise to prominence in the early 2000s, the sisters announced that their father had sexually abused them for a number of years; this revelation led to the father’s arrest and the end of the siblings’ relationship with their mother, who had long turned a blind eye to her husband’s wrongdoings. Niles handles the subject of sexual abuse forthrightly but not pruriently, balancing his consideration of trauma with a no less fascinating study of the Browns’ careers as classical pianists. The two subjects come together in the movie’s affecting concluding passages, which show the grown siblings recording an album of pieces they’d first played as children, working through their difficult memories.


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