Well, the last words are just heartbreaking when Moonee races over to see her friend Jancey before Moonee is going to be taken away. She says, “I can’t say it,” then bursts into tears.

But I’ll focus on this exchange:

Moonee: You know why this is my favorite tree?
Jancey: Why?
Moonee: ’Cause it’s tipped over, and it’s still growing.

My guess is the exchange was improvised by Sean Baker when they found the tree. Or perhaps Brooklynn improvised it herself. But it’s such a perfect line. The child is simply stating an observation about this interesting tree which if you check the link above, you’ll see is very much alive.

But one way to read the subtext is the tree is a metaphor for the “hidden homeless”, families living on the edge of poverty (“tipped over”), but somehow surviving and staying alive (“still growing”).

That’s one thing about children and dialogue: they can say things with such innocence and purity of intent that the unintended subtext is that much more powerful than the more complex motivations of adults. A child likely doesn’t even KNOW they’re conveying something of such rich thematic relevance.

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