Barbie Ferreira and John Leguizamo shine in multiple SXSW winner 

Bob Trevino Likes It

Source: SXSW

‘Bob Trevino Likes It’

Dir/scr: Tracie Laymon. US. 2024. 102mins

An unexpected online friendship leads to a journey of self-discovery in Tracie Laymon’s feature debut. Featuring strong performances from actress/model Barbie Ferreira (Nope, TV’s Euphoria) and John Leguizamo as lonely people making a connection, along with confident steering from Laymon (who has previously directed award-wining shorts like Mixed Signals and Ghosted), this emotional drama already had much to recommend it before its SXSW Narrative Feature Competition Grand Jury and Audience Award wins. Festivals and distributors should certainly take notice. 

 The platonic chemistry between Ferreira and Leguizamo feels natural

Based on Laymon’s real-life experiences of connecting with a stranger on Facebook while searching for her own estranged father, Bob Trevino Likes It has an authenticity which grounds a potentially outlandish narrative. That’s also helped by a vivid performance from Ferreira as Lily Trevino, a 25-year-old woman from northern Kentucky who works as a live-in carer to wheelchair user Daphne (Lauren ’Lolo’ Spencer,) and has a difficult relationship with her narcissistic father, Bob (French Stewart). An eloquent opening sequence sets the tone of Lily’s life; she finds out her boyfriend has been cheating when he sends her a text meant for another woman (‘No prob!’ she replies as she weeps into her pillow), then politely endures an excruciating lunch with Bob, who endlessly talks about his online dating before leaving her to pick up the bill. 

Yet Laymon’s screenplay makes it obvious that while Lily may be downtrodden, she is also a fighter — even if she doesn’t yet realise it. In a darkly funny montage in her therapist’s office, Lily explains that her drug-addicted mother left when she was four and then matter-of-factly offers numerous examples of her father’s ill-treatment, so numb to his behaviour that she cannot recognise it as emotional abuse. Both Ferreira and the film handle this lightly, but we understand why Lily finds it difficult to recognise her true value, and the strength it must take to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

During these early scenes, scored with a melancholy tinge by Jacques Brautbar and rendered in a muted palette, Lily pastes on a smile like armour and keeps fighting to maintain a relationship with her dad — he is, after all, the only family she has, even if he is constantly reminding her how she has ruined his life. Yet Laymon keeps things moving, and we don’t have to wait too long to get to the film’s turning point which comes when Lily’s dad disowns her after she accidentally ruins one of his many romantic prospects. Desperately searching for him on Facebook, she instead finds another Bob Trevino. On a whim, she messages him.

An hour away in Southern Indiana, Bob (a charming, measured Leguizamo) is a childless 50-something construction manager whose life with wife Jeanie (Rachel Bay Jones) has shrunk to minuscule proportions for reasons that are not immediately clear. He works too much, while Jeanie loses herself in obsessive scrapbooking. Initially hesitant, Bob responds to Lily’s message and soon they are communicating regularly. Here, too, Laymon captures the sense of validation that can come from the ping of a like on a social media post; although for Lily, when ‘Bob Trevino’ likes her posts of old childhood photos and other family memories, it strikes a far deeper chord.

To avoid any discomfort, Laymon is quick to define the boundaries of this burgeoning relationship. Bob clearly loves and is respectful of his wife — he is honest with her about his friendship with Lily — and Lily is not looking for anything other than someone she can rely on. If their connection seems to come very easily, any dramatic convenience can be forgiven as the platonic chemistry between Ferreira and Leguizamo feels natural, empathetic and genuine. And as they both begin to let down their guards, it’s a pleasure to watch them; so much so, in fact, that it doesn’t really matter that the characters in their orbit are far less vividly sketched.

As the colour palette warms, the score grows more optimistic and both Lily and Bob begin to find their individual voices, Bob Trevino Likes It resonates as a celebration of friendship, and the small acts of everyday kindness that have their own redemptive power. 

Production companies: Laymon’s Terms, Five By Eight Productions

International sales: UTA,; Myriad Pictures,

Producers: Tracie Laymon, Sean Mullin, Edgar Rosa, Felipe Dieppa 

Cinematography: John Rosario

Production design: Sydney Marquez

Editing: Anisha Acharya 

Music: Jacques Brautbar

Main cast: Barbie Ferreira, John Leguizamo, French Stewart, Lauren ‘Lolo’ Spencer, Rachel Bay Jones