I'm not one to use the term "brilliant" when describing a film, but LE BAL certainly merits it. It sounds so dry when you tell people the plot: a bunch of people in a timeless (in more ways than one) dance hall in Paris, with a series of vignettes that give the viewer a history of not only France but Europe (and in some places, the world) from the late 20s to the mid-80s. And yet that's what it is and what makes it so incredibly brilliant. The director uses each time's music and dance to make a statement about life as it was, whether during the Occupation or the 60s era student riots. His performers are all, to a man/woman, spot on with their characterizations: the man who's more concerned about his perfect hair than the safety of his dancing partner, the controlling woman who rhythmically waves her hands to keep her men at a suitable distance, the near-sighted wallflower who IIRC never gets on the dance floor. Even the buffoons are so elegantly shaded that you find yourself rooting for them in the end.
This little masterpiece is now almost impossible to find, so grab it when you do see it. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Yes, it is that good.