With mind-boggling coverage and astonishing intimacy, DeMott and Kreines cultivated a seemingly telepathic rapport with their subjects, and their dedication shows in the film's dense characterizations. In accordance with its subjects, SEVENTEEN is unabashedly emotional, and it's to the filmmakers' great credit that Lynn and her classmates come across as hilarious, irritating, charming, irresponsible, surprising, obnoxious, exuberant, heartfelt, and contradictory—often all at once.
Seventeen is often handheld, underlit, grainy and characterized by harsh, fleeting patches of color. These visual modes contrast with the brown and beige, evenly lit spaces (school, suburban homes) that try and fail to define Lynn, John and the others. Above all, Kreines and DeMott shoot and edit with a sense that the subjects at hand are expanding in unexpected and often vertiginous directions, lurching and hurtling without a defined sense of self.
Striking all sorts of notes, from heartbreaking to gut-busting to petrifying, the film's participants behave with extraordinary candor. DeMott and Kreines are miraculous shooters, hyper-alert to both emotion and composition, and their punchy editing is a model for nonfiction cinema, as it wholly disregards fictional convention and slyly nods to their presence (at one point, Kreines offers a two-dollar contribution to the kegger fund).