A strong ensemble powers this lyrical celebration of female friendship, based on the popular novel by Ann Brashares. TV regulars Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia) and Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) are joined by the effervescent America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves) and newcomer Blake Lively as four best pals who stay in touch during their first summer apart by circulating a lucky pair of thrift-store jeans. The overall tone is sunny, but the comic stretches pale beside the artful dramatic scenes, which examine such tests of young womanhood as first love, mixed families, early loss, and denial. Except for one manipulative deathbed scene, Ken Kwapis directs with sensitivity, steering the multiple story lines toward a satisfying conclusion. PG, 119 min.
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