I may be misremembering Blue Valentine, but was it quite so obvious and forceful as this film? I remember it being much more realistic, and certainly more tragic. There was a human core that this one just kind of lacked as it strove to weave this multigeneration narrative about...family? Revenge? Acceptance? Belonging? I don't know. Life isn't easy, it isn't simple, so maybe that's the point. Or maybe I'm overlooking some massive theme (we're all trapped, we can't escape our past, etc. Cages are a prevalent image in the film), though even so the film kind of lacked any sort of bite.
Yeah it was pretty CINECAST!ing ballsy to kill Ryan Gosling off within the first hour. Not to mention great sleight of hand marketing with the trailers. That's definitely a way to keep him from overacting and going off the rails like he did in BV, but I don't really think it improved the film all that much (mostly because then it meant slogging through Bradley Cooper). So yeah, bland as warm piss is definitely a way to describe it. It also kind of felt like it was going to end five different times. Oh, it was kind of strange how underwritten and plot devicey the (few) female charcters in the film felt.
In its attempts to force worlds together it kind of lost track of any shred of humanity.