A cute, quirky animation whose chief attribute is its refusal to relent to the trite emotional pull that seems demanded of it. The overbearing score cloys at the heartstrings, the animal characters tempt the tear ducts, but Bear Story has a more troubling twist to its tale, sealing this kids' cartoon with a moment of enigmatic maturity. Barely more than ten minutes in duration, it's the perfect primer for a spell of reflection, a deceptively charming story of hurt and healing that's actually an antidote to the sickly sweetness of many similar animations. This one has a real purpose, a political purpose indeed, and it both mocks the traditional tropes of tonal warmth and narrative satisfaction in animated filmmaking and yet exalts them. There's nothing especially new to Bear Story's tale-within-a-tale structure, nor to its lo-fi aesthetic, yet both aspects are deployed to good effect; would that Denver's musical accompaniment were a more sensitive addition to the film, since its presence is so essential due to the complete absence of dialogue. In that regard, Bear Story is not just an animated film but a silent one too, and it operates similarly to the classic silent films in its use of vivid imagery and clever narrative devices. Gabriel Osorio Vargas' film is very well made, and it achieves profound effects through subtle simplicity; a few refinements here and a little more ambition there, and perhaps it could have been a classic itself.