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Plot, Details & Awards

The Cazalets

360min.
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Plot & Details

In the summer of 1937, wealthy timber importer William Cazalet (Frederick Treves) and his wife, Kitty (Ursula Howells), host their children -- Hugh, Edward, Rupert, and Rachel -- and grandchildren for an extended holiday at William's idyllic Sussex estate. At dinner, William invites Rupert (Paul Rhys), a struggling artist, to join his other two sons, Hugh and Edward, in his thriving firm. Idealistic Rupert declines the offer. While attempting to justify his decision to his self-centered wife, Zoe (Joanna Page), whom he married after his first wife died, Rupert also must cope with his adolescent daughter's resentment of her stepmother. Meanwhile, rumors of war with Germany unsettle the family, and they monitor radio broadcasts closely. Hugh (Hugh Bonneville) knows well the perils of soldiery. In the Great War, he lost the use of his left hand and suffered a head injury that causes recurring headaches. His wife, Sybil (Anastasia Hille), worries about him, and he in turn worries about her, especially when her health mysteriously declines. Edward (Stephen Dillane), on the other hand, worries only about getting caught cheating on his wife, Villy (Lesley Manville), who is pregnant. His lustful behavior becomes truly detestable when he gropes his own daughter. His sister, spinster Rachel (Catherine Russell), is his opposite: reserved, always thinking of others. But a secret longing distresses her, and she vies with it in silence. Meanwhile, Villy, Zoe, and Edward's mistress all become pregnant; Sybil develops cancer; Rupert enlists when the Nazis go on the march; and a nephew comes to the Cazalet estate to escape his autocratic father. The war, familial conflict, and Sybil's illness test the family as never before. The final two hours of the six-hour saga reveal whether the Cazalets have the mettle to choose selflessness over self.

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