The two leading characters are very well drawn. Francesca Camillo is perfect as the compulsive liar Kelly, who frequently rings Child Line with stories about her "abusive" father. Max Rennie plays the son of a wealthy businessman. He too is unhappy with his life and expresses his rebellion with fake suicides. His prized possession is a 1959 Ferrari, which he cares for in the same way a doting father cares for his child.
I believe this is essentially a story of escape. The two characters are breaking free, discovering themselves. The film covers issues like class (Kelly is the poor one, Max is the rich one),the need children have for independence and their impatience to grow up, and most of all the freedom of leaving home. Although Max is breaking the law by being an under aged driver, he is still a sympathetic character. The two children seem to have a cynical and negative outlook on life despite their young age (both are 13 years old), they are children who are just beginning to discover what the world is really like and try to reject it.
What I find appealing about this film is the reminder of childhood. I was 12 when the film was made, and I remember how different everything seemed at that time from a child's perspective. More innocent and naive. Other good points of the film are the pleasant scenery of the English landscape and the music score. "Hard Road" is a good way to spend an hour and a half, a nice blend of drama and humour. I even wanted to know what happened to Kelly and Max after the film ended, but of course this has to be left to conjecture. I have to confess I am curious about what became of the two leading actors, who would now be in their mid twenties. Max Rennie has appeared in one other movie, made the following year, while Francesca Camillo made her only screen appearance in this work. The acting of these two people was above average and it seems a shame that they have since slipped into obscurity. I hope they are doing well in whatever paths they have followed.