In this essay, I am going to analyze performance to prove that the 'attacking mentality' of Abercrombie (Clarke Peters) changes the 'defensive mentality' of Dixon (Sam Rockwell). By being confident and decisive, Abercrombie will change Dixon's behavior from confrontational to submissive as he realizes his mistake and regrets his behavior. To demonstrate this, I will analyze the rhetorical strategies of film performance in both characters.
In regard to body movement and posture, Abercrombie's movement is direct, strong, slow, and free, as if he has taken control of the police station and is sure about what he is doing and saying. On the other hand, Dixon's movement is completely the opposite. Despite being the one who is supposed to be free, he is, in fact, bound after Abercrombie's presence. He is first sitting comfortably in his car with his feet on the table, as if he were the leader of the group. But when Abercrombie threatens him, he loses all his power and has to stand up and obey him.
In relation to speech, Abercrombie starts speaking in a calm and educated way, but this changes completely when he is treated as an enemy by the police officers, as they are defensive. It is when Abercrombie changes his attitude and speaks in a more threatening and intimidating way, with a strong and determined voice, even using expletives. Everyone changes their behavior except Dixon, who is still defensive and wants Abercrombie to leave the station. This makes Abercrombie ask for Dixon's gun and badge, and suddenly Dixon realizes that he has made a terrible mistake. He speaks in a much more submissive and regretful voice, also changing the pitch to a low-key voice.
About facial expression, Abercrombie is frowning all the time during his conversation, his eyes are half-closed, and there is no smile at all. He always looks directly into the eyes. On the contrary, Dixon initially looks at him with superiority, thinking he has control of the situation. He also looks directly into Abercrombie's eyes. But when he has to hand over his gun and badge, his facial expression changes completely. He no longer looks at Abercrombie with superiority, his mouth is half-opened in surprise, and he tries to avoid eye contact. Abercrombie is the one who has the power now, although Dixon makes a final attempt to solve things and see if Abercrombie can forgive him by looking into his eyes, but he is sent to the station.
Finally, talking about physical appearance, it is important to say that Abercrombie is older and more serious than Dixon, which creates a contrast within the station and makes him a figure of power and leadership. Dixon does not take things seriously, which causes him to lose power. It is also worth noting that Abercrombie is wearing a suit, which gives him a more powerful appearance.
In conclusion, all the performing strategies used throughout this film aim to make it believable, and this scene is a perfect example. The actors' choices are crucial in achieving this sensation, which is why Frances McDormand won an Academy Award for Best Actress, for instance.